Coronavirus: US gives 10 times the amount of money to WHO than China

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As coronavirus continues to cripple almost every country on earth, questions are being raised over the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the top brass at the World Health Organization (WHO).

Earlier this week, President Trump accused the specialized United Nations agency of acting too slowly on the escalating crisis, and deemed it "very China-centric."

He affirmed in both a tweet and later at a press briefing on Tuesday that his administration is "going to look into" the money U.S. taxpayers give to WHO – and potentially freeze it – given that Americans are the largest donors.

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization during a news conference on the novel coronavirus COVID-19, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland earlier this month. 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization during a news conference on the novel coronavirus COVID-19, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland earlier this month.  (Keystone via AP)

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So exactly how much is China forking out to have attained such an apparent influence? Well, nowhere near the United States.

"In short, the total contributions of China versus the U.S. is $86 million versus $893 million," David Maxwell, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), told Fox News. "The U.S. contributes nearly 10 times the amount China does."

Here is how it works.

WHO operates on a two-year budget, and invoices members with two annual payments. It receives its money – usually totaling around $4.5 billion per year – through two streams. The first is referred to as "assessed" or mandatory contributions, which is considered core funding from its member states, and are based upon expected amounts scaled by population and income. These make up just under 20 percent of the total budget. The second stream is "voluntary," provided by member states, private individuals and organizations, and makes up the bulk of WHO's revenue.

"Nations are assessed membership fees based on their gross domestic product and population size," Dennis Santiago, a global risk and financial analyst surmised. "Nations and foundations can also make additional voluntary contributions to the general fund and for special designated projects, including outbreak and crisis response."

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The United States pays the highest assessment fee to the WHO. The March 2020 WHO's financials indicates that the United States' current year assessment is $57,883,460. This is almost twice China's 2020 assessment of $28,719,905 to the organization's annual budget, the second-largest assessment in WHO's budget.

Based on WHO's financial reports as of March 2020, China committed to an assessment of $28,719,905 to the organization's annual budget. The current year amount is presently outstanding. China appears to be up to date in its payments; there are no amounts in arrears from prior years on WHO's report.

The U.S. has a balance of an additional $41,284,915 from prior years that have not been remitted, for an outstanding U.S. total funding assessment of $99,168,375. This amount is around one-third of the total $257,470,000 WHO is awaiting as of the end of March 2020. The U.S. and China have the two most substantial contribution assessments to WHO in 2020, followed by Japan and Germany.

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According to WHO financials, China assessments have been as follows.

2016 — $23,914,320

2017  $23,914,320

2018 — $18,948,900

2019  $18,948,900

2020 — $28,719,905

2021 — $28,719,905

"The history of assessments by WHO for the [People's Republic of China] PRC shows the numbers did dip in the 2018-2019 period but have since grown to for the 2020-2021 period," Santiago explained. "Curiously, the WHO is supposed to make assessments to member nations based on their [gross domestic product] GDP and population size. China and the United States have similar GDPs, and China's population is four times larger than the U.S. But China's annual assessments are one-half that of America's."

Santiago also pointed out that it is in voluntary contributions to the WHO where "the United States truly shines."

"In 2017, the latest year for which WHO has compiled reports, the United States government donated a whopping $401,108,929 USD, 40% of the total donations by member states that year. China's donations were a much smaller $10,584,499 USD in 2017."

People bow their heads during a national moment of mourning for victims of coronavirus at an official ceremony in Wuhan.

People bow their heads during a national moment of mourning for victims of coronavirus at an official ceremony in Wuhan. (AP)

Indeed, more than 80 percent of the WHO's budget is made up not from assessed contributions but from voluntary ones — of which the United States again contributes the most, and China gives none.

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In 2017 – the most recent data for voluntary contributions available – the U.S. totaled more than $400 million of additional support above the almost $30 million already given per year under assessed contributions. Moreover, WHO data shows that the U.S. is its largest financier – giving more money than the United Nations itself – followed by South Korea, Australia, the Gates Foundation, and then Japan. The rest of the top 10 is rounded out by donations from GAVI Alliance, National Philanthropic Trust, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Bloomberg and the European Commission.

An examination of WHO's voluntary contributions donor list from the period 2012-2013 showed that 20 entities made up 81 percent of all contributions. At the top, this time was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, seconded by the United States, and then the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Gavi Alliance, Canada, Australia, Norway, and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund.

China was nowhere to be found in the top 20.

"The coronavirus crisis has exposed the [Chinese Communist Party] CCP's strategy to infiltrate and dominate international institutions for two main reasons: to ensure they act favorably toward the PRC and to prevent admittance of Taiwan to any international organizations," Maxwell said. "At the very basic level, it is about ensuring these organizations accept and adhere to the 'One China' concept."

In total, the total comparisons have been tabulated here:

China Contributions 2019:

Assessed: $75,790,000

Voluntary: $10,189,000

Total: $85,979,000

US Contributions 2019:

Assessed: $236,912,000

Voluntary: $656,092,000

Total:  $890,004,000

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Brett Schaefer, senior research fellow in international regulatory affairs at the Heritage Foundation, further highlighted that nearly 90 percent of China's contributions were assessed or mandatory.

By contrast, 73 percent of U.S. contributions were voluntary.

"China's contributions have been rising over the years because its economy and per capita income levels have been rising, and the formula for assigning assessed contributions is based on that data. However, despite its growing economy, China still only gives roughly a tenth of the amount that the U.S. provided because the US is far more generous in providing voluntary contributions."

From Schaefer's lens, China's political clout is based partially on its growing financial contribution and the perception that it is a rising power, but also on its historical diplomatic relationships with developing countries.

"China's contribution is growing, and WHO bureaucracy does not want to alienate a government that may one day be its largest contributor," he observed. "Similarly, some governments are leery of angering China who they see as a future superpower. Finally, as with most international organizations, the biggest decisions in the WHO are made by the member states, including choosing the Director-General. Each member state has one vote, so China's influence with developing countries carries great weight through sheer numbers."

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"What you really see when examining the financials of organizations like WHO is how generous the United States is to humanitarian causes. America's government and philanthropy dominate the equation constantly," Santiago added. "In all honestly, humanity would be in the Dark Ages were it not for the largess of America and its people."