The assistant director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) has ended a video call with an RTHK journalist after she asked him about Taiwan’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yvonne Tong, of Hong Kong’s RTHK News, on Friday, interviewed Bruce Aylward, a senior advisor at WHO, who was adamant not to discuss Taiwan’s status with the organization.
When asked if WHO would reconsider Taiwan’s membership, Aylward sat silently, staring at the camera for a good 10 seconds before pretending to not hear the question.
When Tong repeated the question, Aylward told her to move to another question before appearing to end the video call.
After Tong called back, Aylward again refused to discuss Taiwan saying, “Well, we’ve already talked about China. And when you look across all the different areas of China, they’ve actually all done quite a good job.
“With that, I’d like to thank you very much for inviting us to participate,” he said before ending the exchange.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the interview on Twitter saying, “Wow, can’t even utter ‘Taiwan’ in the WHO? You should set politics aside in dealing with a pandemic.
“FYI @WHO, 450+ news reports from 40+ countries so far positively covered Taiwan’s handling of COVID19. These reports do not mistake us as part of China & #TaiwanCanHelp.”
According to BBC News, “Taiwan is seen as one of the few places in the world which has successfully stemmed the spread of the coronavirus without resorting to draconian measures. But despite its efforts, it is still effectively locked out of membership in the World Health Organization (WHO) due to its complex relationship with China.”
WHO membership is only granted to countries that are members of the United Nations – which does not recognise Taiwan.