Tsai is the winner of the John McCain Award for Leadership in Public Service for 2020, the International Security Forum in Halifax (HFX) announced late Monday. Although an independent, Washington-based international security forum, it was founded by the Canadian government and receives significant funding from Ottawa.
This year’s award is the second in a row that Beijing is unlikely to like, after the 2019 award went to the people of Hong Kong “for their brave battle for their rights in the face of oppression by the Chinese government.” Beijing views self-governing democratic Taiwan as part of its territory, and Tsai is a figure of disgust in China̵
7;s state media.
Earlier, Ottawa was forced to deny reports that it had tried to block the award of the Tsai Prize after Politico, HFX’s media partner, announced in April that ministers had threatened to withdraw funding if the Taiwanese leader was elected.
In an interview with lawmakers later that month, Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said the reports were “absolutely untrue.” Sajan said HFX was completely independent, adding that he “approved funding for (the forum) twice last year.”
Following the controversy, Canadian lawmakers voted unanimously on a non-binding proposal calling on the government to continue funding the award, saying Tsai “is a respected international leader, Taiwan’s first female president and a strong global defender of democracy.” .. she would certainly be perfect for this award. ”
In response to the vote, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijiang said Beijing “regrets and rejects the wrong Taiwan-related proposal adopted by the Canadian House of Commons.”
“Canada must recognize that the Taiwan issue is highly sensitive, cautious and properly address Taiwan-related issues, and avoid further undermining bilateral relations,” Zhao said.
It was the second proposal in months to embarrass the Canadian government after China voted in February to declare the situation in Xinjiang – where Beijing is accused of detaining millions of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities – “genocide.”
Relations between Ottawa and Beijing have collapsed in recent years after the 2018 arrest in Vancouver of Huawei CEO Meng Wangzhou, who is currently battling extradition to the United States, where she is wanted for alleged violations of sanctions against Iran.
Following Men’s arrest, two Canadians – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – were detained in China and later charged with espionage. The two men were finally tried in March in separate closed-door hearings, which were widely condemned by Western governments.
The government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has come under significant criticism for its inability to help the two men, with many lawmakers urging Ottawa to take a more aggressive stance toward China.
In March, Beijing sanctioned a number of Canadians, including Conservative MP and shadow foreign minister Michael Chong, for spreading “rumors and misinformation” about Xinjiang. Chong described it as a “sign of honor” and said Canadians had a “duty” to call on Beijing because of the repression in Hong Kong and the “genocide” in Xinjiang.