US government member expected in Taiwan, Beijing rage

Together with a delegation, US Secretary of Health Alex Azar will visit Taiwan in the coming days, marking the highest level of US representation in four decades. For Beijing, the United States risks “endangering peace”.

Is the United States trying to escalate Sino-US tensions? They will soon be sending their most prominent delegation to Taiwan since 1979. Neither Taiwan nor Washington has indicated the date of this visit.

The U.S. Office of Trade with Taiwan confirmed on Tuesday (August 4th) that U.S. Secretary of Health Alex Azar will lead the delegation to visit the island that Beijing believes a rebel province is called to return to communist China one day.

“This marks […]the first visit by a member of the government in six years, “said the American Institute in Taiwan, adding that no member of the United States of this rank has visited” since 1979. “the year Washington chose to recognize China and ceases to recognize Taipei.

“Taiwan has been a model for openness and cooperation in global health during and long before the Covid-19 pandemic,” Alex Azar said in a statement.

He added that he was keen to convey US President Donald Trump’s support for Taiwan’s “leadership” in the face of the health crisis and to “underline our common belief that free and democratic societies are the best model for protecting and promoting health.”

Azar, “a close friend from Taiwan”

Taiwan confirmed the next visit and specified that Mr Azar would meet with the Taiwanese Foreign and Health Ministers on this occasion.

“Minister Azar has long been a close friend of Taiwan,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that the visit was “evidence of the solid foundations of mutual trust. [entre Washington et Taipei]”.

An approach since the election of Donald Trump

The United States is still Taiwan’s main arms supplier, but has traditionally been cautious about the nature of official bilateral contacts.

However, this has changed since the election of Donald Trump, who moved closer to Taiwan as relations with Beijing deteriorated.

The last visit to Taiwan by a member of the US government was in 2014 by the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. The previous one dates back to 2000, when Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Transport visited the island.

Beijing responded by accusing Washington of “endangering peace.”

With AFP and Reuters