“President Tsai is an inspiration and an example of freedom-loving people everywhere,” said Forum President Peter Van Praagh. “Her courage and her courage in defending her people against the aggression of the Chinese Communist Party are precisely the qualities that the John McCain Prize was designed to recognize.”
The award is presented each year at the forum event in Halifax, but the 2020 conference was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Van Praagh said the forum will personally award the prize to Tsai at a ceremony to be planned “in time.”
The forum paid tribute to Tsai on Monday with the release of a video calling her “another champion of freedom.”
“I want to assure people that we will not escalate the confrontation nor give in,” Tsai said in a clip of a speech in the video.
Beijing does not recognize Taiwan’s independence and has long sought control over it. China has targeted democracy for several months with a hybrid warfare campaign, including election interference, cyber attacks and military aircraft cruising around its airspace. Taiwan’s economy has suffered as a result of growing fears of a full-scale invasion.
After news broke out about Canada putting pressure on the forum over the award, Trudeau’s Liberal government and the prime minister himself faced sharp questions about the history of parliament.
Days after the POLITICO article, the House of Commons unanimously adopted a symbolic, non-binding motion in support of the Halifax Forum’s decision to award Tsai the prestigious award.
However, Trudeau’s government has proved uncomfortable with the prospect of the award going to Tsai at the event in Canada.
Ottawa has sought to avoid provoking Beijing as it seeks 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 CEO Meng Wanzhou in December 2018 due to a US extradition order. Beijing has marked the arrest of Meng, the daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecom founder, a political act on behalf of the United States and has demanded her release.
The U.S. Department of Justice last year accused Huawei of violating the RICO Act (RICOET) – Rights most commonly associated with organized crime – for fraud in evading U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Tensions between Canada and China rose days after Meng’s arrest, as China in an apparent retaliation gathered two Canadians. The men were recently charged with espionage charges; they are currently awaiting sentencing and, if convicted, potentially lengthy 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 Trudeau’s biggest foreign policy challenges. Kovrig and Spavor are known in Canada as the “two Michaels”.
The dispute has also had financial consequences. China, Canada’s second-largest trading partner, halted some important Canadian agricultural imports following Meng’s arrest.
The Halifax Forum’s annual event is held in Canada, and as a major sponsor, Ottawa donates about $ 3 million a year to the conference.