Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill, Monday, May 11, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

China pushes back against efforts by Canada to get Taiwan access at WHO

Issue is politically charged partially because of two Canadians detained in China

China responded sternly Monday to efforts by Canada and its allies to allow Taiwan access to the World Health Organization, telling the coalition of countries to essentially butt out of its internal affairs.

Canada, Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, Britain, Japan and the U.S. have called on the WHO to give Taiwan observer status at an upcoming meeting of the organization set for next week.

Taiwan had early success in controlling the outbreak of COVID-19, and Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne has told The Canadian Press that Taiwan’s presence as a non-state observer in the World Health Assembly meetings next week would help the pandemic fight.

The move is politically sensitive for Canada because it is in its own dispute with China over what it calls the “arbitrary” imprisonment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

The issue clearly touched a nerve Monday in Beijing, where the spokesman for China’s foreign ministry was asked whether New Zealand — one of Monday’s signatories — had received assurances from China’s leaders that they would not push back against its efforts.

“China deplores and opposes them and has lodged representations with the New Zealand side,” said spokesman Zhao Lijian in an English transcript of his remarks posted on his ministry’s website.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway region. Its status on the world stage is regularly the cause of diplomatic friction.

“On the Taiwan region’s participation in WHO activities, China’s position is clear and consistent. The one-China principle must be observed,” he added.

“The Taiwan authorities chose to play up its so-called participation in WHO events and return to the WHA at this moment. The timing reveals its true motive, which is to use the current outbreak to seek ‘Taiwan independence.’ It is out-and-out political manipulation.”

ALSO READ: Are COVID-19 mutations cause for alarm? Experts say no

While he was speaking directly to New Zealand’s participation, Zhao issued a warning that would apply to Canada and its allies, saying, “we are firmly resolved to uphold our sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. No one should entertain any illusion when it comes to matters concerning China’s core interests.”

In Ottawa, Scheer on Monday backed the Liberal government’s efforts to include Taiwan over any opposition from China.

“These types of entities which provide guidance and services to folks on the health and safety of people around the world should not be impacted by global politics and by the foreign policy positions of the PRC (People’s Republic of China),” Scheer said Monday.

Scheer also pointed out that his party has long called for Taiwan’s inclusion in organizations such as the WHO and the International Civil Aviation Organization, and said their work should not be influenced by China’s foreign policy.

Despite co-operation on health and trade since the pandemic’s outbreak, relations between Canada and China have been severely strained since the RCMP arrested Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou on an American extradition warrant in December 2018.

China arrested Kovrig and Spavor nine days later in what is widely viewed as retaliation and has levelled accusations of spying against the men. Canada has marshalled a broad coalition of international support calling for their release and that has angered Chinese leaders.

Taiwan is also squarely in the centre of the Trump administration’s dispute with China and the WHO. The U.S. has temporarily halted funding to the organization over its allegedly inadequate assessment of COVID-19’s early threat when the novel coronavirus was breaking out in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

ChinaCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bella Coola Heli Sports now offering yacht-based heliskiing starting at $319K

BCHS has partnered with Maple Leaf Adventures and the MV Cascadia

Liberals and Greens yet to announce North Coast candidates

North Coast candidates have until two weeks before the election to name contenders

Nimpkish sold as Northern Sea Wolf resumes central coast route

The sale of the Nimpkish was official as of Sept. 20, 2020

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

BC Timber Sales’ operations on the North Island and Central Coast to be audited

The Forest Practices Board randomly chose the region to check for compliance to legislation

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

B.C. Green leader says NDP abandoning environmental plan

Horgan’s claim of unstable government false, Furstenau says

Most Read