The latest detente between Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping didn’t last long.
After vowing last month to fight alongside Xi against the coronavirus, the U.S. president turned his anger yesterday toward the World Health Organization and its ties with Beijing, announcing a temporary halt in funding for the global body. Trump said the WHO took China’s claims about Covid-19 “at face value” and failed to share information about the pandemic. China defended its response and blasted Washington.
The WHO’s loss of its biggest donor during a pandemic is unprecedented, and Trump’s announcement drew criticism from the likes of billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Infections are quickly heading toward the 2-million mark, with the U.S. now the epicenter of the outbreak.
Trump’s fellow Republicans have also joined in by ratcheting up efforts to paint China as the villain, seeking to shift blame as the president faces intensifying criticism for his handling of the pandemic.
It’s not surprising that Trump — facing re-election this year — would attack a global body during a crisis. Since taking office he’s criticized NATO, defanged the World Trade Organization, and pulled the U.S. out of both the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal.
And while he may have stopped calling Covid-19 the “Chinese Virus,” his decision to target the WHO could have far-reaching consequences for global health — and relations with Xi.
Biden boost | Back-to-back endorsements from Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama have cemented the Democratic Party behind Joe Biden as its presumptive presidential nominee and demonstrated the careful calculus of party leaders to unite its once-warring progressive and moderate wings. But how did it unfold? As Tyler Pager explains, the Biden camp wanted Sanders to endorse before Obama to ensure the Vermont senator was genuinely behind the campaign.
Grim exit plan | The European Commission unveiled a sobering plan for the partial lifting of coronavirus lockdowns, saying economies won’t fully reopen until a vaccine or a cure for the raging pandemic is found. The “roadmap” unveiled by the European Union’s executive seeks to coordinate the 27 members’ actions as they chart a gradual exit from restrictions that have hammered output in the world’s largest trading bloc.
Chancellor Angela Merkel will consult with Germany’s 16 regional premiers today about possibly relaxing social-distancing rules.
Digital age | The lockdown gripping much of the world has spurred a real-time stress test of the long-heralded digital future. While millions have lost their jobs as waiters, flight attendants, Pilates instructors and other service providers, sustaining sectors that can function online has never been more important for the global economy, Enda Curran reports.
Oil chaos | Saudi Arabia’s signing off on one of the most notable oil output deals in history hasn’t stopped it from slashing prices to fend off fierce competition in Asia. The latest moves from the de facto leader of OPEC indicate that the market is in danger of “careening out of control,” said Michael Hsueh, a strategist at Deutsche Bank.
Virus voting | South Korea held the biggest election of any nation during the pandemic, offering a potential model for other world leaders to follow. A raft of precautions were put in place for the parliamentary ballot, in which President Moon Jae-in looks poised to leverage his handling of the virus response to rebuild support battered by an economic slowdown, corruption scandals and resurgent tensions with North Korea.What to Watch
The $349 billion program to help U.S. small businesses reeling from the Covid-19 outbreak could be exhausted by tomorrow, a top White House adviser says, but negotiations in Congress to replenish it remain stalled. Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers are scheduled to speak today after the world’s top industrial economies backed plans to help shield emerging and developing markets from the crisis. Poland’s ruling nationalists will start debating laws today to fully ban abortions and criminalize teaching teens about sex, in what’s seen as a bid to raise support among right-wing voters before a disputed May 10 presidential election.
Tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at [email protected] finally … One of South Korea’s leading sources for accurate tallies for the pandemic was made by an industrial engineering student fed up with misinformation. It’s a growing trend, Sheridan Prasso and Sohee Kim report. While big-named companies like Apple and Google are developing contagion-tracking software, volunteer coders in South Korea, Taiwan, Germany, the U.S. and elsewhere are jumping into action with some of the best ideas to flatten infection curves and save lives.
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