Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

After intense criticism from the U.S. government, the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is doubling down on its policy of blocking Twitter accounts that criticize its policy of excluding Taiwan from membership, according to a letter viewed by Axios.

Why it matters: ICAO's attempts to suppress criticism on an issue that China's leaders consider sensitive have raised fears that the organization is under Beijing's sway.

The big picture: China views Taiwan as part of its sovereign territory and has worked for decades to isolate it diplomatically and to shut it out of membership in international organizations like the United Nations.

What's happening: In late January, as the coronavirus had begun to spread in Asia, ICAO came under fire for blocking Twitter accounts belonging to researchers, analysts and congressional staffers who said ICAO should reconsider its exclusion of Taiwan.

  • The ICAO Twitter account blocked critics who argued that aviation information-sharing is crucial during an international public health crisis, making Taiwan's exclusion from ICAO a public health risk.
  • The State Department issued a statement on Feb. 1 criticizing the ICAO and demanding it no longer block critics on Twitter.
  • In early February, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs sent a letter to ICAO expressing opposition to its exclusion of Taiwan and its blocking of Taiwan-related discussion on Twitter.

The ICAO's letter responding to Congress, dated Feb. 11 and signed by Salvatore Sciacchitano, president of the ICAO Council, doubled down on the agency's new social media guidelines.

What they're saying: The letter underscored ICAO's commitment to freedom of expression and the "healthy exchange of information."

  • "However, as recent world events have well-demonstrated, reducing the spread of inaccurate or intentionally misleading information via social media is a major challenge," the letter continued. (It was the only place where the letter appeared to engage with the question of blocking people on Twitter.)
  • ICAO social media staff aim to promote "constructive discourse," the letter stated.
  • "Acknowledging that the implementation of this Policy in these specific occurrences has generated some misinterpretation, I wish to inform you that I have asked the Secretary General to review its full alignment with the UN Social Media Policies and Practices," the letter added.

The expert take: "I don’t think they’ve really addressed the question here," Anthony Arend, a professor of government and foreign service at Georgetown University, told Axios. "It comes down to whether the ICAO can block people who are talking about whatever they are talking about."

  • "As an international organization, they’re supposed to be serving all the people. This doesn’t seem like a reasonable approach," said Arend.

Go deeper: UN aviation agency blocks critics of Taiwan policy on Twitter

Go deeper

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia groups was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

8 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!