The World Health Organization’s annual meeting entered a second day on Tuesday, after an opening dominated by feuding as the United States escalated threats of isolationism and China bit back against criticism.
In Beijing, a foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, criticized the United States’ position at a routine news briefing on Tuesday,. After more accusations of Chinese obfuscation flew.
“The United States has made a miscalculation and found the wrong target when it picks on China, shirks its responsibilities and bargains on how to fulfill its international obligations to the World Health Organization,” Mr. Zhao told reporters.
President Trump, in a letter posted to Twitter late Monday night, pledged to permanently end funding for the World Health Organization unless it committed to “substantive improvements within the next 30 days” and declared that “China has been anything but transparent” in its response.
On Tuesday morning, the World Health Organization spokeswoman said that the agency had no immediate comment on the letter, but expected to have “more clarity” later in the day, according to the news agency Reuters. The organization’s annual meeting continues on Tuesday, and has become a forum for nations to highlight their own responses and to step into the void left by the United States.
The organization agreed to launch a probe into the global response to the coronavirus pandemic and adopted a resolution, brought by the European Union on behalf of more than 100 countries including Australia, China and Japan. Officials seated in the Geneva meeting room, spaced at an appropriate distance, applauded as it was passed.
The resolution calls for an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” into the international response to the virus, including by the W.H.O. President Trump had been insisting that the health agency investigate the origins of the virus and whether it was created in a Chinese lab. Scientists who have studied the genetics of the coronavirus say that the overwhelming probability is that it leapt from animal to human in a nonlaboratory setting, as was the case with H.I.V., Ebola and SARS.
The resolution was adopted without objections, though it fell short of what the United States wanted. China did not object to the resolution, but President Xi Jinping on Monday said any such inquiry should wait until the health crisis was brought under control.
Mr. Xi also announced at the start of the meeting that Beijing would donate $2 billion toward fighting the coronavirus and dispatch doctors and medical supplies to Africa and to countries in the developing world. The gesture was also seen — particularly by American officials — as an attempt by China to forestall closer scrutiny of whether it hid information about the outbreak.
The donation, to be divvied out over two years, amounts to more than twice what the United States had been giving the agency before President Trump cut off American funding last month. Last year, the United States contributed about $553 million of the W.H.O.’s $6 billion budget.
The Trump administration has sought to blame the organization for the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 315,000 people worldwide, including more than 90,000 in the United States. In videotaped remarks to the assembly after Mr. Xi spoke, Alex M. Azar II, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, countered with sharp criticism of both the W.H.O. and China, saying their handling of the outbreak led to unnecessary deaths.
China says U.S. found the ‘wrong target’ for Criticism.
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