Chinese President Xi Jinping has for the first time defended his country’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic on the world stage, saying China has acted with transparency and “done everything in our power” to help other countries. In his address to the World Health Assembly on Monday, Xi called for global support of the World Health Organisation , as the agency confronts funding cuts from the United States. Xi added that China would support a “comprehensive review” of the global response to Covid-19 when the pandemic was over. But China did not give its backing to an EU-led draft resolution calling for an independent investigation into the WHO’s performance. “The work should be based on science and professionalism led by the WHO and conducted in an objective and impartial manner,” he said. “We must strengthen global governance in public health. Mike Pompeo slams ‘spiteful’ Taiwan exclusion from WHO meeting “In view of the weaknesses and deficiencies exposed by Covid-19, we need to improve the governance system for public health security. We need to respond more quickly to public health emergencies.” Xi also announced that China would allocate US$2 billion over two years to help affected countries – particularly developing nations – respond to Covid-19. On China’s handling of the pandemic, which has been criticised by the United States and the European Union, Xi said: “All along, we have acted with openness, transparency and responsibility. We have provided information to the WHO and the relevant countries in the most timely fashion. “We released the genome sequence at the earliest possible time. We have shared control and treatment experience with the world without reservation.” Coronavirus: can India stay focused as China, US set to clash at World Health Assembly? Xi also offered support for beleaguered WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Under the leadership of Dr Tedros, the WHO has made a major contribution in leading and advancing a global response to Covid-19. Its good work is applauded by the international community,” Xi said. “At this critical juncture, to support the WHO is to support international cooperation and the battle for saving lives as well. “China calls on the international community to increase political and financial support for the WHO so as to mobilise resources worldwide to defeat the virus.” Xi said China would work with the United Nations to set up a global humanitarian response hub in China, and make Chinese-developed vaccines for the benefit of all. “Covid-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good,” he said. “This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.” With a focus on Africa, Xi said China would accelerate construction of a disease control and prevention headquarters on the continent. Chinese hospitals would also pair up with 30 hospitals in Africa, Xi said. “Developing countries, especially African countries, have weak public health systems. It is of crucial importance to help them strengthen the defence line in the international battle against the virus,” the Chinese president said. He vowed to work with other Group of 20 countries – which include the US, major European economies and Russia – to carry out a debt relief initiative for “the poorest countries”. Taiwan unlikely to go to World Health Assembly due to ‘politics’: vice-president With the US and Europe planning to reopen their economies, Xi said countries “where conditions permit may reopen businesses and schools in an orderly fashion in observance with the WHO’s professional recommendations”. “In the meantime, international macroeconomic policy cooperation should be stepped up,” Xi said, adding that the global supply chain should not be interrupted. Addressing the assembly later in the day, Tedros said he would launch an independent evaluation of the WHO’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic at the “earliest appropriate moment”. “We all have lessons to learn from the pandemic. Every country and every organisation must examine its response and learn from its experience. The WHO is committed to transparency, accountability and continuous improvement,” he said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the meeting that the coronavirus pandemic would be overcome more quickly if the world worked together to tackle it, adding that it was necessary to look at whether the WHO’s processes could be improved. “The World Health Organisation is the legitimate, global institution where all the threads come together. Because that is the case we have to keep looking at how we can further improve its functioning,” Merkel said, adding that this included ensuring the body had sustainable financing.