Assistant director-general of the World Health Organization Bruce Aylward appeared to go deaf, or to have experienced technical difficulties when a Hong Kong reporter asked him a question about Taiwan, then rudely hung up when the reporter repeated the question.
During an interview for RTHK’s weekly current affairs show, The Pulse, Yvonne Tong asked Aylward: “Will the WHO reconsider Taiwan’s membership?”
Aylward’s eyes and mouth twitched with a slightly pained expression, then followed a long, awkward silence with Aylward staring blankly at the screen as if he had not heard the question.
“Hello?” Tong prompted.
“I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear your question, Yvonne” Aylward responded innocently.
“Okay, okay, let me repeat the question,” Tong offered.
“No, that’s Okay. Let’s move to another one then,” the evasive epidemiologist countered.
“Right. So this… I’m actually curious in talking about Taiwan as well, on Taiwan’s case,” Tong continued.
Aylward’s eyes then shifted to his keyboard, and the video call shut down.
Not to be outdone, the persistent journalist, TV producer and current affairs host called Aylward back.
“I just want to see if you can comment a bit on how Taiwan has done so far in terms of containing the virus,” Tong explained.
Aylward closed his eyes for pause, then rushed: “Well we’ve already talked about China and you know, when you look across all the different areas of China, they’ve actually all done a quite 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.”
Aylward is a darling of China’s state media, known for his effluvious praise of the regimes response to the epidemic.
“I would like to be treated in China if I caught the virus,” the WHO expert was quoted as saying by the Chinese Communist Party owned China Daily, referring to comments made by Aylward at a press conference in Geneva on February 26.
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