President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday invited the WHO chief to visit Taiwan to see for himself how the people there are fighting the coronavirus outbreak, as the two sides continued to spar over the island’s exclusion from the global health agency's plans.
“I want to take this opportunity to invite WHO director-general Dr Tedros [Ghebreyesus] to visit Taiwan and experience for himself how committed the Taiwanese people are to engaging with the world and combating Covid-19,” said Tsai in a tweet on Thursday.
This came hours after Ghebreyesus slammed Taiwan, saying he was facing "racist slurs" against him, which he said had originated from the island.
Taiwan says it has been unable to get timely information on coronavirus and that Taiwanese lives have become political pawns. The WHO denies this.
Taipei has long described this as a pattern of behaviour that puts it at risk because of pressure from Beijing to exclude it from international bodies.
"For years, we have been excluded from international organisations, and we know better than anyone else what it feels like to be discriminated against and isolated," Tsai said in a statement.
"If Director-General Tedros could withstand pressure from China and come to Taiwan to see Taiwan's efforts to fight Covid-19 for himself, he would be able to see that the Taiwanese people are the true victims of unfair treatment,” said Tsai.
Tedros is not a popular figure in Taiwan due to suspicion he is too close to the mainland, and because the WHO lists Taiwan's virus cases under China's numbers.
Earlier, Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said Tedros' accusations were groundless and "imaginary" and Taiwan had not made any racist comments nor encouraged anyone to do so.
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