US response to coronavirus 'incompetent': China hits back at Trump

Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus during a press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House. Photo: PTI
The US is targeting the World Health Organization (WHO) to "shift the blame" from its own "incompetent response" to the coronavirus pandemic, said China on Tuesday hours after President Donald Trump accused the UN agency of showing "an alarming lack of independence" from Beijing. 

"The US tries to use China as an issue to shift responsibility and bargain on its international obligations to WHO", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing in Beijing.

Trump posted a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, dated Monday, on his Twitter page overnight. Among other things, Trump pointed to his decision to suspend US contributions to the WHO pending a review of its actions in response to the outbreak.

He faulted its "repeated missteps" in the response to the pandemic, saying they have proven "very costly for the world".

China rejected Trump’s statements, with Zhao saying: "The US leadership's open letter is full of vague expressions such as probably etc." 

"It tries to mislead the public to smear China and shift the blame from its own incompetent response" to stop the spread of the virus in the US, he said. "It is futile. Currently, COVID-19 is still spreading in the US and many other places." 

Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his address to the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) on Monday, praised WHO and Ghebreyesus.

The WHA is the decision-making body of the Geneva-based UN agency. The annual meeting, being held virtually on Monday and Tuesday, is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board.
(With inputs from PTI and AP)

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