US President Donald Trump on Friday said that it will terminate its relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO) over handling of the coronavirus outbreak in China and will begin the process of withdrawing special trade benefits for Hong Kong because of the imposition of a new security law by the Chinese government in the semi-autonomous city.
The two measures, combined with the cancellation of visas for some Chinese citizens, come as a rift between the two countries widens.
Trump, who has complained for weeks about the World Health Organization as the virus death toll surged in the United States, said the global health body failed to adequately respond to the outbreak because China has “total control” over the global organization.
He said that they have detailed the reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly, but they have refused to act. “Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating the relationship,” said the President from the White House.
The U.S. is the largest source of financial support for the WHO and its exit is expected to significantly weaken the organization. Trump said the U.S. would be “redirecting” the money to “other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” without providing specifics. He said Chinese officials “ignored” their reporting obligations to the WHO and pressured it to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered.
Trump added that the administration would begin eliminating the “full range” of agreements that had given Hong Kong a relationship with the U.S. that mainland China lacked, including on trade and extradition. He said the State Department would begin warning U.S. citizens of the threat of surveillance and arrest when visiting the city.