The government would respect the decision of the organizer of the John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service on whether it plans to award a prize to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.
The statement was issued after US Web site Politico reported a day earlier that the Canadian government had warned the Halifax International Security Forum (HFX) not to give the award to Tsai for fear of provoking Beijing.
“The ministry believes that if the Halifax International Security Forum confers the prize upon President Tsai, it would be an affirmation and honor for both President Tsai and the people of Taiwan, for their efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and their democratic achievements,” ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said.
The John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service is bestowed annually by the HFX to individuals who have demonstrated uncommon leadership in the pursuit of human justice.
The prize was first given to the People of Lesbos, Greece, in 2018 for their “valiant actions to rescue refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East.”
The People of Hong Kong were awarded the following year for their “brave fight for their rights in the face of oppression from the government of China.”
The HFX decided late last year to give the prize to Tsai for “standing strong against China’s relentless pressure,” Politico reported.
However, the Canadian government threatened to pull its support and funding from the HFX if the award was given to Tsai, the report said.
HFX vice president Robin Shepherd was quoted by Politico as saying that Tsai is a well-respected international leader, the first female president of Taiwan and a strong global advocate for democracy.
“She would certainly be an ideal fit for this award. At this time, we have no further announcements to make,” Shepherd said.
The ministry has taken note of the reports, Ou said, adding that the HFX has yet to announce the winner of the prize.
Taiwan-Canada bilateral relations are cordial, she said, adding that the two are like-minded nations that share values such as democracy, rule of law and human rights.
“Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has publicly recognized Taiwan’s democratic system and has endorsed Taiwan’s meaningful participation in multilateral international forums,” she added.
Taiwan is grateful for Canada’s long-standing support of its participation in international organizations, Ou said.
“In line with the shared values of freedom and democracy, Taiwan will continue to maintain close contact and cordial ties with the Canadian government, the HFX and other friends from all sectors of Canadian society,” she said.
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