HFX wanted to honor Taiwan’s president with the prestigious John McCain award. But Canada feared poking the Chinese bear.
Late last year, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter, the forum’s organizers decided to give its John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service to Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan. Cindy McCain, a member of the forum’s board of directors, greenlit the decision to honor Tsai with the prize named after her late husband.
It would have been the third time the HFX presented the McCain award. The first, in 2018, went to the people of Lesbos, Greece, for their efforts to save refugees; the second, in 2019, went to the citizen protesters in Hong Kong. HFX planned to give the third to Taiwan’s president for standing strong against China’s relentless pressure.
When Canadian officials learned of the forum’s plans, they made it clear that if organizers gave the honor to Tsai, the Canadian government would pull support — and funding — from HFX.