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'We are not China': Vietnam lifts ban on Taiwan flights, Wuhan coronavirus mess

Christian Fernsby |
On Saturday evening Vietnam lifted a ban it had imposed on direct flights from Taiwan earlier that day amid confusion caused by the World Health Organization's inclusion of Taiwan as a part of China in its reports on Wuhan coronavirus.

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Topics: VIETNAM    TAIWAN    FLIGHT    WUHAN    CORONAVIRUS   

On Friday, Italy banned all direct flights from Taiwan, and Vietnam followed suit on Saturday as part of drastic measures to prevent transmission of Wuhan coronavirus. Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Italy's decision was made under the misconception that Taiwan is part of China, as the same order also applies to flights from Hong Kong and Macau.

According to a report by AFP, the Italian government said it was the first government of a European Union country to suspend all flights from China, but it did not mention Taiwan. Vietnam announced Saturday afternoon it would halt flights from China effective Feb. 1 to May 1, an order which included Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

On Sunday Foreign Minister Joseph Wu blasted the World Health Organization (WHO) for causing flight bans to be imposed on Taiwan by designating the country part of China and accusing its leaders of living in a "parallel universe," reported CNA. Wu blamed Italy and Vietnam's decisions on "inaccurate information" provided in the WHO's report on Wuhan coronavirus.

At 7 p.m. on Saturday evening, Taoyuan International Airport Co. told media that the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam has removed the border control against Taiwan, but it remains on China, Hong Kong, and Macau. In response, Taiwan's embassy in the Vatican posted a tweet in which it rejoiced in the lifting of the flight ban and wrote that "Taiwan is a democratic and independent country with a health care system that is among the best in the world and is separate from that of China."

Italy, however, has inexplicably maintained its ban on flights from Taiwan despite protests from Taiwanese officials. Wu is asking Taiwanese diplomats around the world to explain to foreign nations that WHO's inclusion of the country is erroneous and should not affect flights.

Wu told the press in Taiwan, "Taiwan is Taiwan. Taiwan is not a part of the People’s Republic of China," reporters Reuters. "This simple reality the WHO should not get wrong," said Wu.

The de facto Italian ambassador to Taiwan was summoned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) today following the European country’s Jan. 31 ban on all flights from Taiwan due to coronavirus fears.

MOFA Deputy Minister Kelly Hsieh will meet with Davide Giglio, representative of the Italian Economic, Trade and Cultural Promotion Office, and is likely to demand an explanation as to whether the ban would be removed, CNA cited sources familiar with the matter as saying.