Taiwanese fundraise for ads to refute WHO chief's accusations

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus' claim that Taiwanese are racist is 'world-class fake news,' say campaigners

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Taiwan's fundraising campaign counters WHO chief's lies. (Zeczec photo)

Taiwan's fundraising campaign counters WHO chief's lies. (Zeczec photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese are raising funds for a full-page advertisement in The New York Times newspaper to refute the World Health Organization (WHO) chief’s recent accusations against Taiwan.

During a press conference at the United Nations health agency’s headquarters in Geneva on Wednesday (April 8), WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus took aim at Taiwan. He claimed to have received racist remarks and death threats, attributing the attacks to Taiwanese.

“And Taiwan, the foreign ministry also, they know the campaign. They didn’t disassociate themselves. They even started criticizing me in the middle of all that insult and slur, but I didn’t care,” said Tedros, who had been asked to comment on U.S. President Donald Trump’s criticism of the organization.

Tedros’ accusations spurred a public outcry on social media and drew protests from the Taiwan authorities. The fundraising campaign was started on Friday (April 10) in the hope of financing a full-page advertisement that will appear in The New York Times next Monday (April 13).

Tedros’ accusations are “a piece of appalling and world-class fake news,” said campaigners on the fundraising page. Media and people around the world watching the press conference could be misled by Tedros’s statement and thus misunderstand Taiwan, they added.

The advertisement will contain a firm rebuttal of Tedros’ claims, in addition to messages that urge international organizations to include Taiwan. In recent years, Taiwan has met with increasing difficulty to take part in the WHO, International Civil Aviation Organization, or Interpol activities, as Beijing ramps up pressure on those international organizations.

“We condemn acts of discrimination, and we extend our respect toward those who have experienced bully, discrimination, negligence, and indifference,” said the campaigners. “Taiwan itself has long suffered similar treatment in the international community,” they added.

The fundraising campaign was initiated by a group of Taiwan's independent media companies, YouTubers, and designers who refer to themselves as #ThisAttackComesFromTaiwan. The hashtag has been used by Taiwanese netizens who began bombarding Twitter and Facebook with photos of Taiwan cuisine and landscapes as a response to Tedros’ claim that Taiwanese had been attacking him.

The campaign aims to garner NT$4 million (US$131,880) within 18 hours. It had received 20 percent backing as of press time.

“I strongly protest the accusations today that Taiwan is instigating racist attacks in the international community,” said Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Thursday (April 9). “For years, we have been excluded from international organizations, and we know better than anyone else what it feels like to be discriminated against and isolated,” said the incumbent president, who went on to say the country remains committed to making contributions to the international community.

“@DrTedros said there's "No need to use #COVID19 to score political points. We agree! Yet without evidence, #Taiwan is accused of orchestrating personal attacks,” said Taiwan' foreign minister via Twitter. “[Tedros'] claim is baseless, without merit & further marginalizes the good work in which the @WHO is engaged worldwide.”