China Says Trump Is Trying to Smear Regime After President Gives WHO 30 Day Ultimatum

China has accused President Donald Trump of trying to smear Beijing by shifting blame for the coronavirus pandemic and demanding "major" reforms of the World Health Organization.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily briefing Tuesday that the president had miscalculated the situation by trying to blame Beijing, according to Reuters.

Zhao also suggested that Trump was trying to blame China to avoid responsibility for his own handling of the outbreak in the U.S.—now the epicenter of the pandemic with more than 1.5 million reported infections and more than 90,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Trump and key allies including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have placed the blame for the pandemic squarely at China's door. Initially, Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for his response to the outbreak in Wuhan, claiming without any evidence that the virus would soon be defeated.

But the White House has since pivoted to blaming Beijing for the worldwide crisis, even hinting at repercussions for China. Last week, the president said he might "cut off" relations with Beijing entirely.

Chinese officials are accused of trying to cover up the initial outbreak, silencing whistle-blower doctors and failing to notify the WHO and international community of the danger.

Beijing is said to have concealed its true number of infections and deaths from the virus, hidden important warning signs that the outbreak was poised to become a pandemic, and pressured the WHO to downplay the severity of the situation.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party has also been conducting a disinformation campaign to attempt to absolve itself of blame and malign foreign nations for their handling of the pandemic, particularly in Europe and the U.S.

The Trump administration has turned its ire on the WHO, temporarily freezing all U.S. contributions to the United Nations body. On Monday, the president threatened to make the funding freeze permanent and withdraw from the organization unless it committed to "major" reforms within 30 days.

In a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump accused the body of being a "puppet of China" and of having allowed COVID-19 to spin "out of control" at the cost of "many lives." The WHO, Trump argued, has displayed an "alarming lack of independence" from China and bowed to political pressure from Beijing.

China has repeatedly dismissed allegations that it mishandled the novel coronavirus outbreak. On Monday, Xi told the WHO's World Health Assembly meeting that Beijing had acted with openness, transparency and responsibility" while providing the WHO and relevant countries with information "in the most timely fashion" and "without reservation."

Donald Trump, China, coronavirus, WHO, pandemic, smear
President Donald Trump walks across the South Lawn upon return to the White House in Washington, D.C. on May 17, 2020. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images/Getty