Embattled WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has accused Taiwan of taking part in “racist attacks” against him. He said that Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was directly aware of the campaign and “didn’t disassociate themselves”.
This is the second time in recent weeks that Dr Tedros has attacked Taiwan; he earlier accused them of engaging in a political campaign to damage him after an online petition calling on his resignation reached over 500,000 signatures. The petition alleged that his failure to declare COVID-19 as a global health emergency in late January is partially to blame for the spread of the virus. The petition currently has over 760,000 signatures.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry has responded to the allegations, saying that the Director-General’s remarks were “without merit and further marginalized the good work which the WHO is engaged with worldwide”, and that it wants a formal clarification and apology from the Director-General.
The WHO has come under increased pressure over its relationship with China, and it’s refusal to recognise Taiwan. Recent weeks have seen: a bizarre interview in which a high-ranking WHO official refuses to acknowledge any question which references Taiwan; a focus on China’s part in the election of Dr Tedros; reminders that Dr Tedros was accused of covering up 3 cholera outbreaks during his time as the Minister for Health of Ethiopia; a comment by the Deputy Prime Minister of Japan that WHO needed to chance its name to the “Chinese Health Organisation”; and now a confirmation, in the Economist, that the WHO didn’t even respond to Taiwan’s queries about COVID-19, particularly on the possibility of human-to-human transmission, for fear of offending China.