Coronavirus: Champagne dodges naming Taiwan when pressed to thank nation for mask donation

When China donated medical supplies to help Canada in battling the coronavirus pandemic, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne turned to Twitter to thank the country directly.

But after the small island nation of Taiwan did the same, Champagne did not post about the donation on his Twitter account and when pressed to thank the nation directly on Thursday, would not say its name.

READ MORE: 500,000 surgical masks donated to Canada from Taiwan

“Will the minister now do the right thing and on behalf of Canadians, recognize the generosity of Taiwan and thank its government for that timely donation?” asked Conservative MP Ed Fast.

Champagne said lots of countries have done the same thing, and would not name Taiwan.

“Canada is grateful to all who have given supplies to Canada. This is a common endeavour,” he said.

“We are thankful, we are grateful to every nation. We will continue to do so. Like I said, when it comes to global health, when it comes to helping each other, I think it is the duty of all to come together.”

Fast tried the question again, and Champagne repeated that he is grateful to all countries that have donated medical supplies to Canada, and again did not mention Taiwan by name.

That response stands in contrast to Champagne’s response to China’s shipment of medical masks, in which the minister shared a Chinese embassy tweet announcing the shipment with his followers and thanked the country directly.

Global News has requested more information from Champagne’s office about his answers.

No response has yet been received.

Taiwan has been recognized globally for containing the early spread of the coronavirus despite its proximity to China and several other Asian countries that have battled deadly outbreaks.

Despite that, it continues to be blocked from joining the World Health Organization.

That’s because China maintains the island nation is one of its provinces.

Taiwan continues to maintain that it is independent and not part of China.

READ MORE: EU members to push for formal probe into coronavirus origins, Canadian position unclear

But China is under increasing global scrutiny over evidence it covered up early outbreaks of the virus and did not accurately report its cases to the World Health Organization.

Critics of the World Health Organization have warned officials there cost the world crucial response time by waiting months to declare a pandemic and by praising the early Chinese response.

China, in response to calls for an investigation, has threatened what Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has characterized as “economic coercion,” but European Union member states are set to push for exactly that at a meeting of the World Health Organization’s decision-making body in two weeks.

There are also rumours that the U.S. plans to propose a draft resolution at that meeting calling on World Health Organization members to allow Taiwan to join as an observer.

Such a move will likely infuriate China, whose diplomats have also been criticized for circulating misinformation on social media accusing the U.S. of being the source of the virus and blaming China to undermine that country’s rise on the world stage.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he believes having Taiwan as an observer at the meetings would be in the best interests of the international community as the world works to limit the virus spread.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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