TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on Feb. 13 described Taiwan as a province of China, five Canadian MPs from the Conservative Party lashed out at the organization on Twitter on Monday (Feb. 17).
On Feb. 13, in the document titled “Economic impact estimates due to COVID-19 travel bans,” the ICAO went on to mention “international traffic with respect to the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions of China, or its Taiwan Province.” The ICAO recently gained notoriety by blocking Twitter users who voiced support for Taiwan and its efforts to join the aviation body.
In response, Canadian MP Michael Cooper retweeted Taiwan News' report on the ICAO's actions and made it clear that Taiwan is factually not a part of Communist China. He also pointed out that Taiwan is both "Democratic & sovereign."
Fellow MP James Bezan also tweeted the story and questioned whether the ICAO had been completely taken over by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). He then exhorted the organization to "get its facts straight!" and asserted that Taiwan is a "thriving independent democracy."
Has the International Civil Aviation Organization been taken over by the Communist Party of China? Hey @icao - get your facts straight! Taiwan is a thriving independent democracy. https://t.co/6ur7qCNwuu— James Bezan (@jamesbezan) February 16, 2020
MP Peter Kent responded to Bezan's tweet by expressing his opinion that the CCP has deliberately placed officials in the organization to prevent Taiwan's participation. He added that the Chinese government has employed a similar tactic in other international organizations.
Short answer is yes. CCP has implanted officials who block legit Taiwan engagement in international aviation safety..in the same way they have in other international fora.— Hon. Peter Kent (@KentThornhillMP) February 16, 2020
MP from Quebec Steven Blaney then tweeted the following comment in French: "The ICAO should recognize Taiwan for what it is, an autonomous entity and not a Chinese province!"
L’OACI devrait reconnaître TAÏWAN pour ce qu’elle est, une entité autonome et non une province chinoise!— Steven Blaney (@HonStevenBlaney) February 16, 2020
Pierre Paul-Hus, the fifth Canadian legislator to speak on Taiwan's behalf, posted a tweet in which he wrote: "Taiwan is Taiwan." He pointed out that Taipei's FIR (flight information region) is controlled by Taiwan, "which is a full-fledged democratic and sovereign country. Simple and clear."
In late January, Guang Qining (關綺寧), the ICAO communications officer appointed by Acting Secretary-General Liu Fang (柳芳) of China, began blocking Twitter accounts that are vocal in their criticism of the agency’s policy of excluding Taiwan’s participation. Among those blocked was Jessica Drun, a non-resident fellow at the D.C.-based Project 2049, after she tweeted that the ICAO should allow Taiwan’s participation in light of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Guang Qining LinkedIn profile. (LinkedIn screenshot)
On Feb. 6, U.S. lawmakers led by Republican Michael McCaul and Democrat Eliot Engel, voiced their concern in a letter over Taiwan's exclusion from the ICAO. They pointed out that air travel often serves as a major factor in the spread of pandemics.
Furthermore, the members urged the organization to evaluate its decision to block social media accounts for raising concerns over Taiwan's exclusion. The lawmakers said Taiwan has the 11th busiest airport in the world and that the ongoing battle against the coronavirus demonstrates the importance of including Taiwan in related conversations.
They stressed that denying Taiwan access to important information "recklessly jeopardizes" the health and safety of all 23 million Taiwanese citizens. The letter was signed by representatives including Ami Bera, Ted Yoho, Albio Sires, Steve Chabot, Gerald E. Connolly, and Mario Diaz-Balart.
After meeting with Vice President-elect William Lai (賴清德) at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D. C. on Feb. 6, U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho on Feb. 10 also urged multilateral institutions, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to recognize Taiwan's contributions to the global community. He said that he will continue to advocate for Taiwan as well as its status in global conversations.
Honored to meet with #Taiwan VP William Ching-te Lai this past week. Taiwan plays an important role in the global arena & remains one of our strongest international partnerships. @TECRO_USA @HouseForeignGOP pic.twitter.com/uJC34lh1Uh— Ted Yoho (@RepTedYoho) February 10, 2020