Foreign Policy

China and WHO Earn Trump's Ire

The president rebukes China over Hong Kong overreach, and the U.S. will leave WHO.

Political Editors · Jun. 1, 2020

Lost in the fray on Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump made two important announcements: More actions against China for the coronavirus spread and for Hong Kong, as well as U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization. Here are some of his key remarks:

China’s pattern of misconduct is well known. For decades, they have ripped off the United States like no one has ever done before. Hundreds of billions of dollars a year were lost dealing with China, especially over the years during the prior administration. China raided our factories, offshored our jobs, gutted our industries, stole our intellectual property, and violated their commitments under the World Trade Organization. …

China has also … broke[n] their word to the world on ensuring the autonomy of Hong Kong.

The United States wants an open and constructive relationship with China, but achieving that relationship requires us to vigorously defend our national interests. …

The world is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government. China’s cover-up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world, instigating a global pandemic that has cost more than 100,000 American lives and over a million lives worldwide. Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organization and pressured the World Health Organization to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities. …

China has total control over the World Health Organization, despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States 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. …

For years, the government of China has conducted illicit espionage to steal our industrial secrets, of which there are many. Today, I will issue a proclamation to better secure our nation’s vital university research and to suspend the entry of certain foreign nationals from China who we have identified as potential security risks. …

This week, China unilaterally imposed control over Hong Kong security. This was a plain violation of Beijing’s treaty obligations with the United Kingdom in the Declaration of 1984 and explicit provisions of Hong Kong’s Basic Law. It has 27 years to go.

The Chinese government’s move against Hong Kong is the latest in a series of measures that are diminishing the city’s longstanding and very proud status.

This is a tragedy for the people of Hong Kong, the people of China, and indeed the people of the world. China claims it is protecting national security. But the truth is that Hong Kong was secure and prosperous as a free society. Beijing’s decision reverses all of that. It extends the reach of China’s invasive state security apparatus into what was formerly a bastion of liberty.

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 treatment that we have afforded the territory since the handover. … Therefore, I am directing my administration to begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment.

My announcement today will affect the full range of agreements we have with Hong Kong, from our extradition treaty to our export controls on dual-use technologies and more, with few exceptions. We will be revising the State Department’s travel advisory for Hong Kong to reflect the increased danger of surveillance and punishment by the Chinese state security apparatus. We will take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory from the rest of China.

The United States will also take necessary steps to sanction PRC and Hong Kong officials directly or indirectly involved in eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy and … absolutely smothering Hong Kong’s freedom. Our actions will be strong. Our actions will be meaningful.


Here’s background on Trump’s well-deserved tussle with WHO, and a comprehensive timeline of the WHO’s malfeasance.

And here’s more on how China stepped up its bullying of Hong Kong.

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