The World Health Organization (WHO) recently activated a filter on its Facebook page that blocked words like “Taiwan” and “China.” After netizens criticized the organization for the censorship, the WHO decided to lift the filters, thus allowing people to use the words once again.
WHO and Taiwan
The WHO’s censorship was applied to the comment section of their Facebook page. Initially, only the word “Taiwan” was reported to be censored. After some time, the word “China” was also found to be blocked. To get around this censorship, netizens started using Taiwan’s former name “Formosa.” Some people even replaced characters with special symbols to avoid their comments being censored.
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When news got out, Taiwan’s foreign ministry stated that it was dissatisfied with the action of the WHO, which was acting contrary to the values of neutrality that it should be upholding. Taiwan’s Representative to the United States Hsiao Bi-khim also lashed out at the WHO. “If that is true, it would be an outrage to see the WHO and Facebook teaming up to do China’s dirty work of censoring the success story in the fight against COVID-19,” she said, as reported by The News Lens.
A spokesman from the WHO tried to justify the censorship as a “practical measure” that does not reflect a policy or value judgment. The spokesman noted that the organization faces cyberattacks by online activists on several issues, with many of them using keywords like “Taiwan” and “China.” The WHO’s social media team eventually decided to censor these words so as to ease their ability to moderate conversations. Once the organization’s Facebook page lifted the censorship, it was flooded with anti-China and pro-Taiwan messages.
The WHO’s justification clearly seems like an attempt to hide its pro-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leanings. After all, it is not just words like “Taiwan” and “China” that were blocked. Some people also reported that terms like “China Virus” and “China Wuhan Pneumonia” were also censored. Plus, the organization has been unnecessarily harsh on Taiwan in recent times.
China has continuously blocked Taiwan from participating in the World Health Assembly, which is the decision-making body of the WHO. This is despite the fact that it is one of the leading nations in the world that has brought the COVID-19 pandemic under control. Rather than benefiting from the expertise and experience of Taiwan in managing the viral outbreak, the WHO decided not to hear from the island’s representatives. This clearly is not how an organization that is said to be dedicated to global health should function.
Taiwan bans pro-Beijing propaganda
Meanwhile, they are also acting strongly against CCP propaganda in their country. The government has refused to renew the license of the TV channel CTi after it was found that the channel was excessively taking a pro-CCP stance. A Beijing-friendly tycoon was apparently interfering in the operations of CTi so as to grow Chinese influence on the island.
Chen Yaw-shyang, head of the National Communications Commission (NCC), revealed that the rejection of CTi’s license was a unanimous decision. The channel was deemed to have endangered the public interest and failed to check facts while reporting news. The Kuomintang party, the opposition party that holds a pro-China view, opposed the decision of the NCC and stated that it could have a chilling effect on press freedom.