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Taiwan denies helping orchestrate ‘racist campaign’ against WHO chief as body hits back at US attacks

TAIWAN was forced today to deny accusations from World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that it had helped stir a campaign against him that involves death threats and racist abuse.

Mr Tedros launched a broadside on Wednesday on countries seeking to “politicise” the coronavirus pandemic in a speech seen as a reproof to US President Donald Trump, who has threatened to cut off WHO funding because he claims the organisation is “China-centric.”

“The United States and China, all the rest of G20 and the rest of the world should come together to fight the virus,” Mr Tedros urged, calling for “national unity and global solidarity” rather than attempts to score points.

But he said that he had had enough of racist abuse and threats and said Taiwanese diplomats had been involved, a charge Taiwan called on him today to retract and apologise for.

The island was the last refuge of nationalist forces after their defeat in the Chinese revolution of 1949, and still claims sovereignty over the whole country.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said that all countries should support the WHO as it is “absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against Covid-19.”

China’s rapid sequencing of the Covid-19 genome after the virus emerged in Wuhan, its immediate sharing of the sequence with the WHO and foreign governments and swift imposition of a strict lockdown across the affected province of Hubei have been praised by the global health body as buying time for other countries to prepare for its spread

The US government is among those charged with failing to use that time to prepare, despite the warnings.

China’s measures also sharply limited the spread of the virus within the country, which is now lifting lockdown restrictions and on Tuesday was able to report its first day with no Covid-19-related deaths since the outbreak began.

China has also been praised for its swift despatch of medical teams and medical equipment to other affected countries, including Italy and Britain.

But President Trump, attempting to deflect attention from his mishandling of the crisis, has accused China of hiding information and being responsible for the international spread of Covid-19, which he has often referred to as the “Chinese virus.”

Taking their cue, Republican senators have attacked the WHO for indulging “communist propaganda” by endorsing Beijing’s response to the pandemic.

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