President Trump announced Friday that he’s “terminating” the United States’ relationship with the World Health Organization, claiming China has total control over it. As he listed a litany of grievances with China, the president announced he’s suspending the entry of certain foreign Chinese nationals and sanctioning Chinese officials who have eroded Hong Kong’s freedom.
The president for weeks has expressed frustration with China, blaming the communist country and in part the W.H.O. for the spread of the deadly virus that has left more than 100,000 dead in the U.S.
“Our actions will be strong, our actions will be meaningful,” Mr. Trump said.
But he hasn’t always been so harsh on China. In the early days of the pandemic, the president applauded Chinese President Xi Jinping for his handling of the pandemic.
“China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus,” the president tweeted on January 24. “The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!”
But as time went by and the virus’ devastation swept the country, his tune changed.
In what was billed by the White House as a news conference, the president took no questions Friday, despite the long list of national news stories.
The president’s appearance came after a devastating night in Minneapolis, where a police precinct was set ablaze during protests over of the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man in Minneapolis captured on video pleading for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck. Shortly before the president’s statement, the officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck, leading to his death, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder.
The president tweeted in the early morning Friday that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” a phrase with serious racial and historical undertones.
Twitter labeled that tweet with a note: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”
The president attempted to clarify that statement in a later tweet Friday.
Walz said in a news conference on Friday that tweet is “not helpful.”
Meanwhile, the deaths from the pandemic continue to pile up, with the U.S. passing the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths.
The president had alluded to holding China accountable for the pandemic in some way. On Friday morning, the president simply tweeted “CHINA!” with no explanation. On Thursday, the president demurred on whether he would stay in the U.S.-China trade deal.
“We’ll be announcing what we’re doing tomorrow with respect to China. And we are not happy with China. We are not happy with what’s happened,” the president said in the Oval Office Thursday. “All over the world, people are suffering. A hundred and eighty-six countries — all over the world they’re suffering. We’re not happy.” (CBS News)