China says U.S. withdrawal from WHO undermines fight against COVID-19

The United States’ withdrawal from the World Health Organisation () is undermining the international fight against the coronavirus epidemic, said on Wednesday.

Washington’s departure from the international body, set in motion on Tuesday, “is another example of the U,S. pursuing ‌‌unilateralism,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian.

“We urged the U.S. to ‌‌ perform its due international responsibilities and obligations and ‌‌ demonstrate the responsibility of a big country‌‌,” Zhao said.

Similarly, German Health Minister Jens Spahn on Wednesday described as a “bitter setback” the formal notification of the United States’ withdrawal from the .

“The withdrawal of the USA from the  is a bitter setback for [international] cooperation,” Spahn wrote on Twitter, and called for “more cooperation to fight pandemics, not less.”

The EU would be proposing reforms to make the UN health body stronger, the minister added.

The U.S. officially notified the UN secretary general of the country’s withdrawal from the global body late on Tuesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump in May said he would withdraw from the WHO, accusing the organisation of failing in the coronavirus pandemic and being a puppet of .

Trump also announced a funding halt to the WHO in a move that has drawn concern, including from U.S. allies.

The move, effective July 6, 2021, was confirmed by a U.S. senior administration official, the UN and later the WHO itself.

The WHO has so far offered no further comment. (dpa/NAN)