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WATCH: Senior WHO Official Avoids Taiwan Question, Talks About China, Abruptly Ends Interview
A sign of the World Health Organization (WHO) is seen at the entrance of the UN specialised agency's headquarters on May 18, 2018 in Geneva. - An Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has a high risk of spreading internally, the World Health Organization warned ahead of a meeting on whether to declare it an event of international concern. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Dr. Bruce Alyward, a senior adviser to the director-general of the World Health Organization, abruptly ended a video interview with Hong a Kong-based journalist, Yvonne Tong, who asked him a question that Communist China might not have wanted him to answer.

“Will the WHO consider Taiwan’s membership,” Tong asked Dr. Alyward, who proceeded to stare blankly until she checked to see if he was still on the other end.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t hear your question, Yvonne,” responded Dr. Alyward, prompting Tong to say she would ask the question again. But Dr. Alyward indicated that he didn’t need the journalist to ask the question again: “No that’s okay, let’s move on to another one then.”

Tong pressed for him to answer the question, saying “I’m actually curious on talking about Taiwan as well, Taiwan’s case.”

Less than a second later, Dr. Alyward leaned forward in his chair and the screen froze – the video call ended abruptly. The narrator of the interview then provides a voice-over, saying they “decided to give Dr. Alyward another call to follow up.”

Tong managed to reach Dr. Alyward again, and said that she just wanted “to see if you can comment a bit on how Taiwan has done so far, in terms of containing the virus.”

The WHO official deflected the question and implied that Taiwan is actually a part of China, and not its own government – a talking point that China’s authoritarian regime has worked hard to maintain.

“Well, we’ve already talked about China,” says Dr. Alyward, “and if 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.”

Dr. Alyward recently travelled to China as the leader of a WHO fact-finding trip, during which he reported that the communist country did an “extraordinary” job reversing the outbreak of coronavirus, which originated in China, reports NPR

“As long as you have these discrete outbreaks … there is the opportunity to control them – to get on top of these and contain them and prevent a lot of disease and ultimately death,” Dr. Aylward told the news agency in early March. “They actually changed the course of a respiratory-borne outbreak without a vaccine, which was extraordinary.”

As NPR has previously reported, the coronavirus epidemic has been linked to the Huanan Seafood Market, where live animals and ocean critters are sold and butchered, and close-quarters make it easy for diseases to spread. 

While doctors in the area discovered the virus-market link by late December, Chinese officials declined to warn the public and accused doctors of spreading rumors if they talked about the disease, reports The Wall Street Journal

The government didn’t announce the virus could spread between humans until January 20, and only instituted a quarantine for Wuhan and several other cities three days later – nearly a month after doctors established the link to the market, reports The Journal. 

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