Senior WHO Official Cuts Off Interview When Reporter Implies Taiwan Isn’t Part Of China

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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A senior World Health Organization official appeared to pretend he couldn’t hear a reporter and then cancelled the call when she implied Taiwan was a separate country from China.

A Hong Kong-based outlet was conducting the interview with senior advisor to the WHO Bruce Aylward. Taiwan is one of the few Western-style democracies near China, and China’s communist government has long insisted that the international community treat Taiwan as a part of “Greater China,” despite having separate governments. The WHO complies and does not allow Taiwan to be a member state. The reporter asked whether that policy might change during the coronavirus pandemic. (RELATED: Mitch McConnell Restructures Campaign Into Meals Effort For Kentuckians Affected By Coronavirus)

“Will the WHO reconsider Taiwan’s membership?” the reporter asked.

Aylward initially doesn’t react, appearing to pretend he couldn’t hear the question. When the reporter prompts him again, he claims outright he didn’t hear the question, but quickly requests that she “move on to another one.”

When the reporter asks the question again Alyward cancels the call before she can finish. (RELATED: Pelosi Says Senate Coronavirus Bill Is Discriminatory To Residents In DC, One Day Before House Vote)

The outlet called him back, and he gave something of an answer.

“Well, we’ve already talked about China. And when you look across all the different area’s in China, they’ve actually all done quite a good job,” he said, before hastily ending the interview.

Aylward previously led a “fact finding” mission to China in February, where he praised China’s response to the virus.

“They actually changed the course of a respiratory-borne outbreak without a vaccine, which was extraordinary,” he said, according to NPR. “China has 31 provinces, thousands of cities, and it was only a few cities where they took those draconian measures. In the vast majority of them, they … really went back to fundamentals of public health.”

China’s public numbers on coronavirus deaths and infections have long been treated with suspicion. Wuhan, where the virus first broke out, reported 2,500 deaths. but over the course of two days during the crisis, just one of the city’s eight mortuaries received shipments of 5,000 urns to carry ashes of the deceased, according to Shanghaiist.

The mortuary plans to release urns at a rate of 500 per day until April 4. If the city’s seven other mortuaries are adopting the same policy, that would total 40,000 urns, starting with the first confirmed delivery on March 26.