The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has blocked social media users who are calling for Taiwan’s participation in the joint WHO-ICAO efforts to help curb the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.
Many Twitter accounts have been blocked by the organization, including those of Congressional staff, D.C.-based analysts, academics, and journalists, according to a report in AXIOS.
“Taipei is an international transit hub, and Taiwan’s exclusion means it can’t take part in information sharing and logistical planning as the coronavirus spreads.” The report stated.
Taiwan has been excluded from the United Nations agency since the UN switched recognition to Beijing in 1971. The PRC has since used its clout in the UN to keep Taiwan out of international organizations, including the World Health Organization(WHO), and ICAO.
ICAO is currently headed by Fang Liu, a Chinese national, and social media accounts are managed by Qining Guang, also a Chinese national.
The Twitter ban-party began after non-resident fellow at the Taiwan-focused Project 2049 Institute, Jessica Drun posted a tweet January 22 suggesting that coordination between WHO and ICAO should include Taiwan’s input.
On January 25, Drun realized that she had been blocked by the ICAO Twitter account.
Also blocked by ICAO are Michael Mazza, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Alexander Powell, a security and foreign policy analyst at the US-China Economic Security Review Commission (USCC), Axios China affairs reporter Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, and US foreign policy and national security reporter Robbie Gramer.
When questioned by a reporter from The Courier, the Office of the Spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General @antonioguterres responded that according to their understanding, ICAO was being attacked by a Twitter-based misinformation campaign.
The attempts by ICAO to silence critics of Taiwan’s exclusion on social media, drew a range of responses. The US government House Foreign Affairs Committee decried the silencing of voices that oppose Taiwan’s exclusion.
US Senator Mark Rubio slammed ICAO for blocking accounts, including those of Congressional staff.
While Rep. Mike Gallagher pointed out the irony of ICAO recently retweeting a Unicef tweet about cyberbullying, while “carrying so much water for the CCP, the world’s chief cyberbully.”
ICAO denied blocking people for criticizing the organization.
“We do not block anyone for criticizing the organization. We encourage constructive criticism. That is the history of ICAO and aviation safety. We will stop people from misusing our channels to spread misinformation, especially in relation to aviation safety and security.” ICAO tweeted.
“…we only block people for doing uncool stuff, like sending us spam.” ICAO wrote in another tweet.
“The exclusion of 23 million people seems uncool. Blocking disagreement seems uncool. Endangering people globally seems uncool. Can you self-block? ” responded Twitter user Chason Dailey.
None of ICAO’s Facebook pages were operational at the time of writing, including the English, Chinese, Korean, or Russian language versions.
After the news about ICAO’s went viral, the organization complained that they were unable to answer queries due to “a large amount of spam.”
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