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China condemns US decision to withdraw from WHO

CHINA condemned the US withdrawal from the World Health Organisation (WHO) today, saying that it “undermines international anti-epidemic efforts” and would have “a serious negative impact on developing countries.”

The Donald Trump administration formally notified the United Nations on Monday that it is pulling out of the WHO. It claims the global healthcare body is controlled by the Chinese.

But the move has been attacked even by US allies at a time when the world is struggling to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, with the United States the worst-hit country both in numbers of cases and deaths. Today it reported its highest daily total of new cases so far – 60,000.

Though China has increased WHO funding in response to the US withdrawing support, WHO special envoy for Covid-19 David Nabarro said that Washington’s decision would still have a severe impact on its finances.

The move is “another demonstration of the US pursuing unilateralism, withdrawing from groups and breaking contracts,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

Since Mr Trump took office the US has walked out of Unicef – the UN children’s fund – and the UN Human Rights Council, torn up the Iranian nuclear deal negotiated by six governments, and cancelled the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia that helped end the cold war.

And China says the White House is also planning to sabotage talks on replacing New START, a 2010 arms reduction treaty between the US and Russia that limits the number of long-range nuclear warheads and launchers each country is allowed.

US negotiator Marshall Billingslea said that Washington was reluctant to sign any new treaty unless it also imposed restrictions on China.

China, which has fewer than 300 nuclear weapons compared to nearly 7,000 each held by Washington and Moscow, said it will be happy to start reducing its stockpile when the US is down to its level.

Relations between Washington and Beijing have hit a new low during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Trump administration repeatedly referring to the virus as a Chinese weapon – though Spanish researchers have now cast doubt on the idea that it even originated in China, saying they have found samples in waste water collected in Barcelona in March last year. 

On Tuesday, FBI director Christopher Wray accused China of seeking to become “the world's only superpower by any means necessary,” listing a number of unsubstantiated allegations about Chinese behaviour abroad including supposed attempts to stop the US developing a Covid-19 vaccine.

Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden said that if he is elected, he would reverse the WHO decision on his first day in office, although in other respects he has supported the Trump administration’s new cold war against China.

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