US Health Secretary Alex Azar met with the island’s president Tsai Ing-wen on Monday in Taiwan. In four decades, such a senior US official has never been to Taiwan on an official visit.
On Monday, August 10, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen received the US Secretary of Health, Alex Azar, who arrived on the island the day before for an unparalleled visit for more than forty years and who was condemned by Beijing.
Alex Azar has been the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan since 1979, when the United States severed diplomatic ties with the island’s capital, Taipei, to recognize the Beijing-based communist government as the sole representative of China.
However, Washington is still with some ambiguity, the island’s most powerful ally and its main supplier of weapons.
Alex Azar’s three-day visit comes amid growing tensions between Washington and Beijing, which clash with a range of topics, from the Hong Kong document to trade issues, to responsibility in the new coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, Health Secretary Tsai Ing-wen met with China’s pets accusing him of formally seeking independence on the island with 23 million people.
“Effective” management of the Covid-19 epidemic
“Taiwan’s response to Covid-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and this reflects the open, open, democratic character of Taiwanese society and culture,” Alex Azar told the president. Taiwanese during his interview.
Wheels down in Taipei. Spring @HHSGov the delegation got rid of masks and tested negative for COVID-19.
– Secretary Alex Azar (@SecAzar) August 9, 2020
Tsai Ing-wen thanked the United States for supporting its efforts to get Taiwan allowed as an observer to the World Health Organization (WHO), while Beijing was allowed to exclude Taiwan from the UN agency.
“Political considerations should never take precedence over health rights,” Tsai Ing-wen said, calling “very regrettable” Beijing’s refusal to admit Taiwan to the WHO.
The People’s Republic of China considers Taiwan to be one of its provinces. The island is ruled by a rival regime that took refuge there after the Communists seized power on the mainland in 1949, at the end of the Chinese Civil War.
Taiwan is not recognized as an independent state by the UN. And Beijing is threatening to use force in the event of a formal declaration of independence in Taipei or external intervention, especially from Washington.
A few days ago, the Chinese government presented AlexAzar’s visit as a threat to “peace and stability.”
“Common values” between Taiwan and the United States
The US official swept away this criticism on Monday. “The message of the US government that I carry is to reaffirm the deep partnership that unites the United States and Taiwan in matters of security, trade, health and our common values of democracy, economic freedom and liberty,” he told reporters before meeting with the president.
Alex Azar had been critical of China’s attitude to a pandemic that appeared on its soil and the WHO’s. A position he held again on Monday. Taiwan “knew from the beginning (…) that we should not trust the claims that come from there (Beijing, the editor’s remark) and the validations made by the World Health Organization,” he said.
Alex Azar will also meet his counterpart, Chen Shih-chung, and Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.
Taiwan is one of the territories that has handled the new coronavirus crisis best. Despite its geographical and commercial proximity to mainland China where the epidemic began, Taiwan has registered fewer than 500 cases of coronavirus and only seven deaths.
The United States, for its part, is the country where the Covid-19 epidemic has claimed the most lives, with more than 160,000 deaths.
In this context, US President Donald Trump’s deniers accuse him of tightening his tone against Beijing in order to make people better forget the mistakes of his administration in the fight against Covid-19, three months before the presidential election.
With AFP and Reuters