A top official with the World Health Organization appeared to feign connection issues when a reporter asked about Taiwan and implied it was not a part of China.
A reporter with Radio Television Hong Kong was interviewing senior WHO adviser Bruce Aylward, a Canadian doctor. Aylward seemed to redirect and divert questions about Taiwan during the interview that went viral on social media.
China claims sovereignty over the island, although Taiwan has its own government and refers to itself as the Republic of China. Taiwan is not a member state of the WHO, which is what prompted the reporter to ask if the organization would “reconsider Taiwan’s membership” in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Aylward stares into the camera and doesn’t answer the question before saying, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear your question,” he eventually said.
“OK, let me repeat the question,” the reporter responds before Aylward immediately replies, “No, that’s OK. Let’s move to another one, then.”
The reporter continues to press and said she is “curious” about “Taiwan’s case.”
Aylward then appears to glance down at his keypad before the video feed suddenly shuts down. The reporter decides to call him back and address the issue once more.
“I just want to see if you can comment a bit on how Taiwan has done so far in terms of containing the virus,” she asks.
“Well, we’ve already talked about China,” Aylward responds. “And you know, when you look across all the different areas of China, they’ve actually all done quite a good job. So, with that, I’d like to thank you very much for inviting us to participate, and good luck as you go forward with the battle in Hong Kong.”
The Washington Examiner reached out to the WHO for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Taiwan has had more than 280 cases of COVID-19 and two deaths since the pandemic began in central China late last year, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracker.