Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday blasted the WHO for treating Taiwan as part of China in the fight against the new coronavirus, adding that some WHO officials live in a “parallel universe.”
Wu blamed a WHO report on the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) for the decisions made by Italy and Vietnam to ban flights to and from Taiwan as part of their efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, accusing it of providing “inaccurate information.”
Italy on Friday announced it would suspend all flights from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan from yesterday to April 28, after confirming two cases of the virus earlier that day.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
Vietnam on Saturday afternoon announced a similar ban, for 90 days, but reversed the decision a few hours later.
In the WHO report dated Saturday, “Taipei” was included in a list of provinces, regions and cities of China with confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV. In the table of confirmed cases worldwide, it listed China with 11,821 cases, including cases in Hong Kong SAR (13), Macau SAR (7) and Taipei (10).
The way the figures were presented “led to the misconception that Taiwan is part of China and a seriously infected area,” Wu said.
Taiwan is not a member of the UN and is routinely listed as part of China by UN-affiliated organizations.
Wu said that he suspected the WHO report was a key factor in Italy’s decision, because the suspension of flights was made on the recommendation of Italian health authorities and the announcement used the term “Taipei” and other language similar to that found in the WHO report.
Italy’s flight ban against Taiwan has negatively affected thousands of travelers, and they are not likely to get compensation from airlines or from the WHO, the minister said.
“I would like to publicly call upon the WHO to recognize the simple fact that Taiwan is Taiwan and it is not part of the People’s Republic of China,” Wu said.
Healthcare in Taiwan and China are administered by separate authorities, as are their flight information regions, he said.
Those WHO officials who have praised Beijing for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak appear to be living in a “parallel universe,” Wu said.
Vietnam’s no-fly order on Saturday afternoon forced a StarLux Airlines flight to Da Nang to return to the terminal at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport even though it was preparing to take off, while an EVA Airways flight en route to Hanoi was forced to turn around and head back to Taiwan.
The airlines then postponed the departures to 11pm on Saturday.
Although the Vietnamese ban was only in effect for three hours on Saturday, Kaohsiung International Airport data showed that Vietnam Airlines canceled two flights scheduled for yesterday morning, VN581 to Ho Chi Minh City and VN587 to Hanoi.
Flight VN583 to Ho Chi Minh City, which was scheduled to depart at 2:50pm yesterday, was delayed, while flight VN580D from Ho Chi Minh City to Kaohsiung, scheduled to arrive at 3:05pm, was canceled and another flight scheduled to arrive at 12am this morning was delayed.
Additional reporting by Shelley Shan
921 EARTHQUAKE: The magnitude 7.3 quake left 2,456 people dead and 10,718 injured, while 53,661 houses were fully destroyed and 53,024 houses damaged The Central Weather Bureau yesterday received about 50,000 views on Facebook after it posted the data that it collected on Sept. 21, 1999, when the nation was devastated by a magnitude 7.3 earthquake. The data showed that the 921 Earthquake hit the nation at 1:47am, with the epicenter being 7km southwest of the bureau’s quake detection center in Nantou County’s Yuchi Township (魚池) at a depth of 8km. The quake left 2,456 people dead and 10,718 injured, while 53,661 houses were fully destroyed and 53,024 houses damaged, with the cost of the damage estimated at NT$300 billion (US$10.8 billion at the current
British newspaper The Mail on Sunday reported that Prince Charles met with Bruno Wang (汪家興), a Taiwanese fugitive who describes himself as a Chinese philanthropist and donated ￡500,000 (US$683,522) to the prince’s charity, the Prince’s Foundation. The newspaper reported that Wang is wanted in Taiwan on charges related to money laundering and being a fugitive from justice, allegations he denies, and drew comparisons between Wang and the Russian banker Dmitry Leus. Investigation and cooperation with foreign authorities have found that Bruno Wang’s father, Andrew Wang (汪傳浦), had stashed proceeds from a scandal involving the procurement of Lafayette frigates in 61 bank accounts,
AT ODDS: The KMT called on the government to seek bilateral dialogue with Beijing to resolve the issue that led to the ban on custard apple and wax apple imports Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials and lawmakers yesterday condemned China’s sudden ban on imports of custard apples and wax apples from Taiwan as “obvious political retaliation,” while the opposition called for a scientific investigation into Beijing’s claim to have found pests in imports of the fruits. China earlier yesterday announced a ban on the importation of the two fruits from today, citing repeated discoveries of Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug. The announcement follows a similar ban on Taiwanese pineapples imposed in February. At least Beijing gave a few days’ notice when it banned pineapple imports, an unnamed government official said yesterday. This time
BY OTHER MEANS: China could see CPTPP membership as a means of circumventing trade restrictions imposed by the US, amid an ongoing trade dispute between them The US could invoke a clause in its trade agreement with Canada and Mexico to block China’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a government official said yesterday. Under Article 32.10 of the Exceptions and General Provisions of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), if either Canada or Mexico enter a free-trade agreement with a nonmarket economy — such as China — the US could withdraw from the agreement. “If that clause applies to multilateral free-trade agreements such as the CPTPP — which Mexico and Canada are members of — that might be cause for the two