January 28, 2020
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations with headquarters in Montreal, Quebec. The ICAO regulates all international air navigation to ensure safe and orderly transportation which includes boarding healthy passengers (1).
Why does this matter? China views Taiwan as part of its sovereign country and has purposely excluded Taiwan from participating with most international agencies including the ICAO, which is led by Chinese national Feng Liu (4). Taiwan’s exclusion means it cannot take part in information sharing between the ICAO and the WHO (World Health Organization) during the Coronavirus outbreak. The Taipei Taoyuan Airport in Taiwan is an international transit hub; in 2018 it handled over 46.5 million passengers worldwide making it the 11th busiest airport in the world! It is the main international travel hub for China Airlines!
Taiwan has been excluded from the ICAO since 2013 (5). This means Taiwan faces obstacles in communicating about international standards and practice which is problematic during an international crisis, such as an epidemic (6).
On Monday, The United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs denounced the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for blocking Twitter accounts that criticized ICAO’s continued exclusion of Taiwan during a global public health crisis (7).
The United Nation’s ICAO plays a valuable role in ensuring aviation security. But silencing voices that oppose ICAO’s exclusion of Taiwan goes against their stated principles of fairness, inclusion, and transparency.
The tweet was a response to ICAO blocking critics, as revealed by U.S. news website Axios earlier the same day. According to Axios, Jessica Drun, a fellow at Project 2049 Institute noticed that ICAO had blocked her on Twitter, two days after she criticized ICAO and the World Health Organization (WHO) for refusing to share knowledge with Taiwan’s authorities in a tweet on January 22, 2019 (7).
According to online investigations the individual responsible for blocking twitter accounts is Qining Guang, who worked for the Civil Aviation Administration in Beijing before taking the lead of the ICAO social media account. This information has since been deleted from the internet and we have no way of confirming it’s authenticity.
The WHO (World Health Organization), a specialized agency of the United Nations that is responsible for international health has also excluded Taiwan who, since 2016, is no longer able to attend the World Health Assembly, WHO’s annual policy meeting (8)(9).
China has prevented Taiwan from attending after President Tsai Ing-wen was elected. They also stepped up existing military and economic pressure on Taiwan, perceiving Tsai’s pro-sovereignty status as a front for Taiwanese independence (10):
Under what other circumstances would 24 million people be excluded from representation in such an important organization? Beijing—and the WHO authorities that bend to its will—is allowing political and diplomatic sensitivities to interfere with the administration of global health and safety.
We now have two essential United Nations agencies, the ICAO and the WHO, purposely excluding Taiwan with one of the world’s busiest airports, from participating in this international outbreak; a Pandemic that most scientists fear will infect billions and possibly kill over 65 million people globally within 18 months (15)(16)!
Reports coming out of one of Canada’s busiest airports, Toronto Pearson International Airport, indicate that there has been no medical screening of hundreds of passengers arriving from flights from China (17). Two passengers coming in from China on January 22, 2020 tested positive for Coronavirus. As for passengers on the flight, including those sitting close to the infected couple, Toronto Public Health says they have only been able to track down a few of those passengers (18). Who is responsible for public safety?
It is not the role of airline staff or handling agents to have prime responsibility for screening and managing travelers who may have a communicable disease: this is usually a public health responsibility.
According to screening guidelines published by the ICAO, the State (China) in coordination with the ICAO as advised by the WHO are responsible for all passenger screening (19)!
There was no screening or quarantine of the two Chinese passengers that arrived in Toronto on January, 2020 (17)? Those coming from China reported they did not see doctors, nurses or undergo any medical screening upon their arrival at Pearson (20). Yet there are images of healthcare workers in affected outbreak zones in China dressed in hazmat suits? Are we now past the acute phase?
The virus has since spread to other countries, reaching Europe, the U.S. and the Canada as a result of people traveling by air (21). One cannot help but ask: Are China and the United Nations intentionally spreading this deadly virus? And why are the world leaders silent on this?
NOTE: These are the airlines that use the Taiwan International Airport (22):