By: He Weiwen Source: Global Times Published: 2020-02-16
Just as the world is combating the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19), Ebola and locust plague in Africa, the US government seeks to halve its funding for the World Health Organization (WHO). It's selfish and indifferent moves once again clearly exposes a severe lack of international responsibility.
According to the US' most recently published budget plan for the 2021 fiscal year, it would cut its funding to the WHO by 53 percent, from $123 million to $58 million. US' contributions toward the organization represented about 17 percent of its total revenue in the 2016-17 biennium. After cutting it's contribution by 50 percent, The US' current donations to the organization clearly don't match a nation of the calibre with the largest economy in the world.
US' new budget proposal doesn't only cut its funding for the WHO, but also largely cuts its other outbound foreign aid, cutting relevant expenditure by 21 percent to $44 billion. Among which, its funding for global health programs will be cut by more than $3 billion.
But the country is not short of money. Compared with its cheap outbound aid spending proposal, it's fairly generous in other areas like defense and building a border wall against Mexico. Its defense budget will increase by 0.3 percent to $740.5 billion, and its budget for building the border wall is $2 billion.
According to media reports, when officials from the US State Department and US Agency for International Development were asked to explain how they could on one hand say their budget "asserts moral leadership through global health and humanitarian assistance" when in reality it cuts funding for both, their response was essentially silent.
US government initiated a steep proposal for cuts to fund support for global public health incidents at a critical time. This clearly shows that its self-claimed leading role in global efforts to combat epidemics has become a joke. Currently many countries and regions are threatened by public health incidents. These all need the WHO's coordination and assistance, but we can't see a concrete significant contribution from the world's largest economy. It's clear that the US lacks international responsibility that such a strong power should shoulder.
Instead of providing aid as it should have, the US again makes baseless fear-mongering actions and words, all of which have been quelled by China's open, transparent, responsible stance, and its positive cooperation with the WHO.
The author is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.