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The World Health Organization (WHO) is being accused of "carrying China's water" after a senior adviser refused to acknowledge Taiwan during a bizarre interview with a Hong Kong news outlet.
Canadian physician Dr. Bruce Aylward, an aide to WHO director-general Dr.Tedros Adhanom, sat down for a video interview with RTHK about the coronavirus outbreak where he was asked whether the organization would "consider Taiwan's membership."
For several seconds, Aylward sat in silence.
"Hello?" the reporter asked.
"I'm sorry, I couldn't hear your question Yvonne," Aylward responded.
"Okay, let me repeat the question," she said.
"No, that's okay. Let's move to another one then," the WHO official told her.
The reporter doubled down, saying she was "curious" to talk about Taiwan as well as the ongoing pandemic, but Aylward quickly hangs up.
After calling him again, the reporter asked about what his thoughts were to Taiwan's response to the outbreak.
"Well, we've already talked about China," Aylward answered. "And you know, when you look across all the different areas of China, they've actually all done quite a good job."
Critics slammed Aylward and WHO for what they suggested was the global organization kowtowing to China.
"Aylward's behavior reminds us that either we remove #China's pernicious influence in multilateral institutions like the #WorldHealthOrganization or the world's free states defund them and start over," author Gordon Chang reacted.
It is an embarrassing scene, journalist Ezra Cheung said. "Ironically, despite being so close to China, Taiwan manages to keep the #coronavirus infection and fatality rate low."
"This is really stunning. Beijing’s power over the speech of a Canadian WHO official," Axios reporter Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian tweeted.
"When exactly did the WHO become a front for Chinese propaganda?" Grabien media company founder/editor Tom Elliott asked.
A spokesperson for WHO told Fox News, "WHO’s focus at all times is to ensure that all areas of the globe have the information they need to manage the health of their people. In a recent interview, the WHO official who headed the joint international mission to China, did not answer a question on Taiwan’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The question of Taiwanese membership in WHO is up to WHO Member States, not WHO staff. However, WHO is working closely with all health authorities who are facing the current coronavirus pandemic, including Taiwanese health experts."