Some argue that withholding our funding of the WHO — $400 million a year — will hinder its international relief efforts. This is a legitimate concern, but the WHO’s missteps themselves hindered the fight against the pandemic at a critical stage. In any event, U.S. funding of pandemic relief does not depend on any single multilateral bureaucracy. In fact, the U.S. has already spent more than $500 million on foreign aid to combat the pandemic — roughly 25 percent of the WHO’s annual budget — on top of existing contributions to multilateral and nongovernmental organizations. During the 60-day hold on funds to the WHO, the White House says it will redirect resources to public-health programs untainted by Chinese influence. While the White House conducts its investigation, the WHO will retain the bulk of its considerable resources. In the meantime, it will deservedly face more international scrutiny for its apparent complicity in China’s coverup of the coronavirus.
The more the World Health Organization capitulates to Chinese soft power, the less effective — and the less deserving of our support — it will be. The White House is right to bring serious pressure to bear to try to check this trend.