Though Taiwan and mainland China appear to be completely independent and separate countries, they are in fact deadlocked in a battle that has been silently raging since the end of World War II.
In a nutshell, mainland China (the People’s Republic of China, or PRC) claims that Taiwan (the Republic of China, or ROC) is not independent but part of the PRC, while Taiwan views the PRC as an illegal state occupying mainland China.
This has created a political nightmare when it comes to the management of the coronavirus epidemic in Taiwan, with officials there accusing the World Health Organization of shilling for the communist Chinese regime and refusing to share details of Taiwan’s number of cases, prevention methods or anything else related to the way in which it has handled the COVID-19 pandemic.
And then Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to the WHO, appeared to hang up on a journalist from Hong Kong’s RTHK, after she posed a question about Taiwan’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aylward then refused to answer any further questions when the journalist was reconnected, stating that they had “already talked about China.”
Now the WHO has been forced to issue a statement to cover up the embarrassing incident, but the impression that the WHO is a fervent supporter of communist China will linger in the minds of many.
The Taiwan/China debacle
The website GuideToTaipei.com explains the complicated history of China and Taiwan:
During the aftermath of World War II, infighting on the Chinese mainland resumed, with the Republic of China government (established in 1912 as the successor to the Qing Dynasty) relocating to Taiwan, and the group led by Mao Zedong (???) creating the People’s Republic of China. To this day, the PRC has control over mainland China, while the ROC has control over Taiwan island, the Penghu archipelago, and minor islands Kinmen and Matsu, while each government claims sovereignty over the whole of “China”. …
As each government claims there is only one China (known as the 1992 Consensus), pressure has been put on the international community to choose whether the PRC or ROC is the sole representative of the Chinese nation. At present, the large majority of the world has official diplomatic relations with Beijing while still retaining economic and cultural ties with Taipei.
At present only 18 countries recognize Taiwan’s independence.
As explained by the U.K.’s Guardian, the interview between RTHK’s reporter Yvonne Tong, and the WHO’s Dr. Bruce Aylward, was conducted via video link and centered around international responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular how Taiwan has responded, since they have recorded a very low rate of infection and a low number of deaths.
When Tong asked Aylward whether the organization would reconsider allowing Taiwan WHO membership, Aylward didn’t respond for a few seconds, and then said he could not hear the question. When Tong offered to repeat it, he replied, “No, that’s okay. Let’s move to another one then.” When Tong pressed the matter, Aylward appeared to simply hang up on her.
After RTHK reconnected the call, Tong once again asked for Aylward’s comment “on how Taiwan has done so far in containing the virus.”
Aylward’s response? “Well, we’ve already talked about China,” he said. “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 added, ending the conversation.
After the interview, Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, sent out a message on Twitter expressing his outrage – a message that was viewed by millions. Under pressure, embarrassed WHO officials put out a statement, noting that WHO membership is decided by WHO member states, not by staff, and that lessons can be learned from the way in which Taiwan has managed to contain its number of COVID-19 patients.
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