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Trump declares ties with WHO snapped, measures against China

Accusing China of atrocious conduct in Hong Kong and violation of commitments, Trump announced he was diverting funds hitherto meant for WHO

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President Donald Trump on 29 May said the US was ending its relationship with the World Health Organisation (WHO), blaming the UN agency and China for the deaths and devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe. Announcing that he was diverting the fund that was hitherto for the WHO to other global public health organisations, Trump made public a series of decisions against China too. These include issuing a proclamation to deny entry to certain Chinese nationals and tightening of regulations against Chinese investments in the US.

Trump further announced that the US would end special of Hong Kong in reaction to Chinese imposition of new controls. He said that the US would revise its travel advisory to warn of surveillance in Hong Kong.

China steals, says Trump

“The world needs answers from China,” Trump said in his aggressive style on a bright sunny day from the Rose Garden of the White House. The president did not take questions from reporters. For decades, China has ripped off the US like no one has ever done before, he said, reiterating his charges against China but saying in the same breath that his predecessors in the office of the president were also to blame.

“China not only stole intellectual property, took away billions of dollars from the US and offshored the jobs but also violated its commitment under the World Organisation,” he said, adding that it was able to get away with the theft, like no one before because of past politicians and past presidents.

Action against Chinese students

President Trump also issued a proclamation banning the entry of Chinese students and researchers who have ties with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China. The president claimed that China was using its students and researchers to acquire intellectual property and technologies from the US in order to upgrade its military.

This action of China is a threat to the US’ long-term economic vitality and the safety and security of the American people, Trump said. “In light of the above, I have determined that the entry of certain” Chinese nationals “seeking to enter the US pursuant to an ‘F’ or ‘J’ visa to study or conduct research in the US would be detrimental to the interests” of America, he said.

F-visas are a type of non-immigrant student visa that allows foreigners to pursue academic studies in the US. The J-1 visa offers cultural and educational exchange opportunities in America through programmes overseen by the US State Department.

China is expansionist: Trump

China, Trump alleged, had unlawfully claimed territories in the Pacific Ocean, “threatening freedom of navigation and international and broke its word to the world on ensuring the autonomy of Hong Kong”.

“The United States wants an open and constructive relationship with China, but achieving this relationship requires us to vigorously defend our national interest,” he said.

Beijing does not honour commitments

Trump alleged that the Chinese government had repeatedly dishonoured its promises to the US, many other nations and the World Organisation. “These plain facts cannot be overlooked or swept aside,” he said.

Trump reiterated that China’s cover-up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world, observing that the world was now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government that has caused a global pandemic that has more than 100,000 American lives and over one million lives worldwide.

China pressured WHO

“Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organisation and pressured the World Health Organisation to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities. Countless lives have been taken, and profound economic hardship has been inflicted all around the globe,” he said.

China, Trump said, had total control over the WHO despite only paying $ 40 million per year compared to what the US has been paying which is approximately $ 450 million a year. “We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engage 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 our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” Trump said. The world needs answers from China on the virus, he said.

“We must have transparency. Why is it that China shut off infected people from Wuhan to all other parts of China? It went nowhere else; it didn’t go to Beijing, it went nowhere else, but they allowed them to freely travel throughout the world, including Europe and the United States. The death and destruction caused by this is incalculable,” the US president said.

“We must have answers not only for us but for the rest of the world. This pandemic has underscored the crucial importance of building up America’s economic independence, reshoring our critical supply chains, and protecting America’s scientific and technological advances. For years, the government of China has conducted illicit to steal our industrial secrets of which there are many,” Trump said.

Chinese are ‘potential security risks’

Trump said that later in the day, he would issue a proclamation to better secure America’s vital university research and “to suspend the entry of certain foreign nationals from China who have been identified as potential security risks”.

Asserting that he was also taking action to protect the integrity of America’s financial system, Trump said he was instructing his presidential working group on financial markets to study the differing practices of Chinese companies listed on the US financial markets with a goal of protecting American investors. “Investment firms should not be subjecting their clients to the hidden and undue risks associated with financing Chinese companies that do not play by the same rules. Americans are entitled to fairness and transparency,” he said.

Riding roughshod over Hong Kong

With reference to the unilateral Chinese action control over Hong Kong security, Trump said that this was a plain violation of Beijing’s treaty obligations with the in the declaration of 1984 and explicit provisions of Hong Kong’s basic law which has 27 years to go. “China’s latest incursion, along with other recent developments that degraded the territory’s freedoms, makes clear that Hong Kong is no longer sufficiently autonomous to warrant the special that we have afforded the territory since the handover,” he said.

“China has replaced its promised formula of one country, two systems with one country, one system; therefore, I am directing my administration to begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment,” Trump added.

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