By Li Qingqing Source:Global Times
A draft letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus shows that the Trump administration will “agree to pay up to what China pays in assessed contributions” to the WHO, according to Fox News on Saturday. US President Donald Trump previously announced that the US was freezing the WHO funding. If the funding is restored as the letter describes, the new US funding level will be about one-tenth what it paid before.
The US is becoming calculating and stingy, and not behaving like a global leader. With COVID-19 raging across the world, it is a terrible time to reduce WHO funding as the world needs the organization to contain the pandemic.
In the WHO, the amount each member state must pay is relative to the country’s wealth and population. According to data from the World Bank in 2018, the US ranked 10th in terms of GDP per capita worldwide, while China ranked only 72nd. There is a wide gap between China and the US in terms of GDP per capita, and yet Trump has repeatedly compared China with the US for fear that China will take any advantage from the organization.
Trump tweeted Sunday that China, with “a population much bigger than ours,” is paying a “tiny fraction” to WHO, the UN and the WTO. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said Thursday that he would resign and Trump responded that he was “OK with it,” saying that “China gets a lot of the benefits that the US doesn’t get” from the WTO.
The US is calculating, and this has been manifested in many aspects. For example, the Trump administration has willfully withdrawn from the Paris Agreement because of an “unfair economic burden,” seriously damaging global efforts to combat global warming.
The US has shocked the world in its mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even former US president Barack Obama said Saturday that many “folks” in charge “aren’t even pretending to be in charge.” What the US is doing is repeatedly disregarding other countries’ interests for its own benefits and undermining the international system.
As the long-time leader of the international system including the WHO and WTO, the US has benefited a lot from the system. However, it is now calculating every penny of its input and the benefit it can receive, and it has been unabashedly politicizing these organizations for its narrow political interests. The Trump administration aims at “America First,” but it may only lead itself into America isolation in the end.