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Trump's WHO exit gives China opportunity to extend influence

US withdrawal would leave Beijing in driver's seat against future pandemics

U.S. President Donald Trump listens along with White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Debbie Birx during an event on reopening schools amid the coronavirus outbreak.   © Reuters

TOKYO/GENEVA -- President Donald Trump's move to officially withdraw the U.S. from the World Health Organization will rob the body of a leading provider of funding, treatments and personnel, and leave China in a position to fill the void.

The exit will not leave the WHO in an immediate crisis, thanks to a rise in private philanthropic contributions from such sources as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which ranks second only to Washington. Still, its disease-fighting efforts in developing nations could be hindered if the move interferes with American personnel support or relationships with U.S. pharmaceutical companies, with potential consequences for its ability to combat the coronavirus outbreak and future pandemics.

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