“President Tsai is an inspiration and an example to freedom-loving people around the world,” said forum chair Peter Van Praagh. “His courage and courage in standing up for his people against aggression by the Chinese Communist Party are precisely the qualities that the John McCain Prize was designed to recognize.”
The award is presented annually at the forum event in Halifax, but the 2020 conference has been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Van Praagh said the forum will present the award to Tsai in person at a ceremony to be scheduled “in due course”.
The forum praised Tsai on Monday with the release of a video calling her “another champion of freedom.” The video features news clips that portray her as arguably the most powerful Chinese-speaking politician in the world.
“I want to assure people that we will not escalate the confrontation and give up,” Tsai said in a speech from the video.
Beijing does not recognize Taiwan’s independence and has long sought to control it. China has targeted island democracy for months with a campaign of hybrid warfare, including election interference, cyber attacks, and military planes circling its airspace. Taiwan’s economy suffered as a result, amid heightened fears of a full-scale invasion.
After the news that Canada lobbied the forum over the prize was announced, Trudeau’s Liberal government and the Prime Minister himself were faced with pointed questions about history in Parliament.
Days after the POLITICO article was published, the House of Commons unanimously adopted a symbolic, non-binding motion in support of the Halifax Forum’s decision to bestow the prestigious award on Tsai.
However, the Trudeau government seemed uncomfortable with the award being presented to Tsai at the event in Canada.
Ottawa has made efforts to avoid provoking Beijing as it attempts to secure the release of two Canadians behind bars in China.
Diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Beijing have deteriorated since Canadian authorities arrested senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in December 2018 on a US extradition warrant. Beijing called the arrest of Meng, daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecommunications giant, a political act on behalf of the United States and demanded her release.
Last year, the US Department of Justice accused Huawei of breaking Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) – the charges most often associated with organized crime – for fraud in the service of circumventing US sanctions against the United States. ‘Iran.
Tensions between Canada and China soared days after Meng’s arrest when, apparently in retaliation, China arrested two Canadians. The men were recently tried for espionage; they are currently awaiting verdicts and, if found guilty, potentially long sentences.
Securing the release of Michael Kovrig, a diplomat on leave, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur who introduced basketball legend Dennis Rodman to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has become one of the biggest policy challenges. foreigner from Trudeau. Kovrig and Spavor are known colloquially in Canada as the “two Michaels”.
The dispute also had economic consequences. China, Canada’s second-largest trading partner, halted some key Canadian agricultural imports after Meng’s arrest.
The annual Halifax Forum event takes place in Canada and, as a major sponsor, Ottawa donates approximately C $ 3 million per year to the conference.