Taiwan’s foreign ministry on Thursday denied accusations by World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that the country had engaged in a “racist” smear campaign against him.
“Without having checked the facts, Tedros’s unprovoked and untrue accusations not only differ from reality, they have also seriously harmed our government and our people,” the ministry said in a statement. Tedros should “immediately correct his unfounded allegations, immediately clarify, and apologize to our country,” the statement continued.
Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen also condemned Tedros’s remarks.
“If Director-General Tedros could withstand pressure from China and come to Taiwan to see Taiwan’s efforts to fight COVID-19 for himself, he would be able to see that the Taiwanese people are the true victims of unfair treatment,” Tsai wrote on her Facebook page. “I believe that the WHO will only truly be complete if Taiwan is included.”
At Wednesday’s press conference, Tedros said he had endured racist attacks and death threats over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, and accused Taiwan of initiating the attacks.
“This attack came from Taiwan,” Tedros said. “The foreign ministry knows about this campaign and they didn’t disassociate themselves.”
Details of the attacks, including specific dates, were not immediately made clear.
Tedros became head of the WHO with the strong backing of China, which prevents Taiwan from joining the organization because it considers the island to be part of its territory. Taiwan has alleged that the WHO did not relay its warnings, during the earliest stages of the pandemic, of possible human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus.
Taiwan has managed to almost completely stop the spread of coronavirus within its borders, recording 380 cases and just five deaths as of Thursday. It has also pledged to provide ten million protective masks to the U.S. and Europe.