Trump terminates relationship with WHO, unveils trade and security punishments for China

'China's pattern of misconduct is well-known,' Trump said Friday in a Rose Garden press conference, saying he was seeking 'fair and reciprocal treatment' from China.

Published: May 29, 2020 10:16am

Updated: May 29, 2020 4:01pm

President Trump on Friday announced that the United States was terminating its relationship the World Health Organization (WHO) and launched a wide-ranging economic and security effort to punish China in the wake of the China-originated coronavirus pandemic.

Trump said Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the WHO and accused China of pressuring the WHO to suppress reporting accurate coronavirus information. Because the WHO had failed to make any requested changes in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, Trump said the United States would be severing its relationship with the WHO and redirecting those funds toward other global health organizations.

Trump said the United States would also punish China for what the president said was unfair trade practices and for violating its governance agreement with Hong Kong.

"Americans are entitled to fairness and transparency," Trump said in a Rose Garden press conference. "China's pattern of misconduct is well known." The president also said he's seeking "fair and reciprocal treatment" from China. 

Trump criticized the Chinese communist government's recent restrictions on Hong Kong's self-governance provisions agreed to by the Chinese government in order for the United Kingdom to withdraw from Hong Kong in 1997.

"Hong Kong was secure and prosperous as a free society," Trump said, accusing China of "degrading" Hong Kong's freedoms, violating its "one country, two systems" 27 years earlier than promised to the United Kingdom. Trump said that the United States would revoke commercial and traveling benefits currently in place for Hong Kong due to Chinese actions.

Trump said the United States was also seeking to protect its university system from undue Chinese influence and that he would suspend the entry of certain foreign Chinese nationals who have been marked as security risks.

Trump criticized China for practices at the World Trade Organization, accusing China of "theft" allowed by past developed nations' willingness to sign trade agreements that Trump said heavily benefited China.

**Developing from earlier Friday**

President Trump plans Friday to address rapidly deteriorating U.S.-China relations – with policy changes anticipated amid the Chinese communist government's restrictions on Hong Kong and the ongoing tension about the coronavirus. 

Whether the president will attempt major executive branch action, which could include tariff changes, is unclear. But the White House has in the past 48 hours made clear its growing dissatisfaction with China, which after the United States has the world’s second-largest economy. 

“Frankly, the U.S. government is furious at what China has done,” National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Friday morning on Fox News. "In recent days, weeks and months, they have not behaved well. And they have lost the trust, I think, of the whole Western world.”

China’s legislature on Thursday approved a national security law that limits the autonomy of Hong Kong, a Chinese territory that has is a major, international financial hub and port city.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned several days ago when the legislation was announced that passage would be a “death knell” for Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Ahead of the measure’s passage, Pompeo informed Congress on Wednesday that Hong Kong no longer enjoyed its special autonomy from China, signaling that Hong Kong could lose its special trading status with the U.S.

The Trump administration is also considering removing thousands of college students amid the growing divide.

Pompeo told said Thursday night that Chinese students "shouldn't be here in our schools spying."

The divide could also jeopardize the recent Phase One deal between the countries that attempts to resolve their roughly 18-month tariff-trade war. 

Trump and other world leaders are also concerned about whether China thoroughly and quickly enough informed them about the coronavirus that started in that country and resulted in a pandemic and global economic shutdown.


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