Washington, Feb. 1 (CNA) The U.S. State Department condemned the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on Saturday for blocking Twitter users who criticized the ICAO for excluding Taiwan, calling the action “outrageous” and “unacceptable.”
The U.S. is “deeply concerned about actions taken by the ICAO to suppress freedom of expression and curtail important discussion of Taiwan’s legitimate role in international issues,” read the statement issued by spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.
“Blocking Twitter users who make reference to Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, particularly given the global response to the coronavirus crisis, is outrageous, unacceptable, and not befitting of a U.N. organization,” it said.
The ICAO’s blocking of critics was first reported by U.S. news website Axios on Jan. 27. According to Axios, those who were blocked included Capitol Hill staffers and analysts, including Jessica Drun (莊宛樺), a non-resident fellow at the U.S. think tank Project 2049 Institute.
It also called on the ICAO to “make clear publicly its understanding that freedom of expression must always supersede the political insecurities of member states.”
Another analyst blocked by the ICAO over discussions of Taiwan inclusion is Michael Mazza, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
In an interview with CNA, Mazza said the Chinese government clearly prioritizes its political interests over saving human lives, even during a global health crisis.
This is evident, Mazza said, by China’s blocking of Taiwan’s participation in the WHO and the ICAO, and its ignoring of Taiwan’s request to fly home Taiwanese nationals stranded in the province of Hubei, which has been placed on lockdown due to the outbreak.