04/16/2020, 00.00
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Several states in support of the WHO (not its director)

by Paul Wang

Asean countries, China, Japan, South Korea maintain WHO plays "an important role".  Scott Morrison appreciates Trump's criticisms, but the body's work is critical.  John Sawers, former British intelligence chief: Take it out on China, not the WHO.


Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Several states in Asia, Oceania and Europe have expressed support for the World Health Organization (WHO), after criticism from US President Donald Trump, who has threatened to remove his country's economic support from the UN body for healthcare.

However, the appreciation expressed for the work and purpose of the WHO does not extend to its director, the Ethiopian Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (see photo), accused of favoring China's needs.

The ASEAN states, together with partners China, Japan and South Korea, after a virtual meeting two days ago, issued a joint statement in which they stressed “the important role of the WHO in the global campaign for control and containment  the spread of Covid-19 ".

Josep Borrell, head of EU foreign policy, sent a tweet saying he is "deeply regret US decision to suspend funding to WHO. There is no reason justifying this move at a moment when their efforts are needed more than ever."

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison sympathizes with Trump on criticism of the WHO and its support for China;  on the other hand, he warns against criticism posing the risk of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater".  For Scott Morrison, the WHO "does an important job here in the Pacific region too and we work closely with them."

In a press conference two days ago, Trump accused the WHO of concealing the development of the epidemic together with China, hiding that there had been human-to-human transmission of the virus for some time, holding back and criticizing those who closed communications with  China, delaying the declaration of a pandemic.

The US president has said he wants to hold the WHO "accountable" and for this he wants to cut the funds, although it is not clear whether he can make this decision or whether it should go through Congress.  The United States is the largest sponsor of the WHO with 400 million dollars a year.  China contributes 70 million.

Former British intelligence chief John Sawers gave advice: China concealed crucial information about the outbreak from the rest of the world and that it would be better to hold China responsible, not the WHO.

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