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U.S. condemns ICAO for blocking supporters of Taiwan

ROC Central News Agency

02/02/2020 05:07 PM

Washington, Feb. 1 (CNA) The U.S. State Department condemned the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on Saturday for blocking Twitter users who criticized the ICAO for excluding Taiwan, calling the action "outrageous" and "unacceptable."

The U.S. is "deeply concerned about actions taken by the ICAO to suppress freedom of expression and curtail important discussion of Taiwan's legitimate role in international issues," read the statement issued by spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.

"Blocking Twitter users who make reference to Taiwan's participation in international organizations, particularly given the global response to the coronavirus crisis, is outrageous, unacceptable, and not befitting of a U.N. organization," it said.

The ICAO's blocking of critics was first reported by U.S. news website Axios on Jan. 27. According to Axios, those who were blocked included Capitol Hill staffers and analysts, including Jessica Drun (莊宛樺), a non-resident fellow at the U.S. think tank Project 2049 Institute.

In a series of tweets, Drun criticized the ICAO and the World Health Organization (WHO) for refusing to share knowledge with Taiwan's authorities even as the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) continued to spread globally.

She expressed concern that Taiwan would not have access to the latest information on joint efforts by the WHO and ICAO to contain the virus.

Two days later, she noticed that the ICAO had blocked her on Twitter, Axios reported.

In response, the U.S. State Department condemned the ICAO and reiterated the U.S.'s support of Taiwan's engagement in international organizations.

It also called on the ICAO to "make clear publicly its understanding that freedom of expression must always supersede the political insecurities of member states."

Another analyst blocked by the ICAO over discussions of Taiwan inclusion is Michael Mazza, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

In an interview with CNA, Mazza said the Chinese government clearly prioritizes its political interests over saving human lives, even during a global health crisis.

This is evident, Mazza said, by China's blocking of Taiwan's participation in the WHO and the ICAO, and its ignoring of Taiwan's request to fly home Taiwanese nationals stranded in the province of Hubei, which has been placed on lockdown due to the outbreak.

He called for the U.S. and other countries to see Taiwan's exclusion from international organizations as a national security issue, and to find ways to make China, as well as other countries who oppose Taiwan's inclusion, pay the price for their behavior.

Commenting on Taiwan's exclusion from such organizations, former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Richard Bush told CNA that Beijing, which dictates the WHO's policy on Taiwan, could easily earn praise by allowing Taiwan to participate in the WHO.

Instead, China has chosen to restrict Taiwan's ability to take part in international organizations so that it can pressure Taiwan to agree to political negotiations, Bush said.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Chiang Yi-ching)


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