US Health Secretary visits Taiwan despite China’s objection

Alex Azar, the United States Health and Human Services secretary and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen during their meeting. Image: EPA

DHARAMSALA, 10 Aug: Alex Azar, the United States Health and Human Services secretary on Monday became the highest-level American diplomat to visit Taiwan in more than 40 years.

The cabinet member from President Trump’s administration arrived on the island on Sunday for a three-day visit to promote shared democratic values and Taiwan’s success in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Azar has met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen earlier today and commended the latter for her country’s success in taming the coronavirus. 

The AFP stated in its report that Azar has commended Tsai for Taiwan’s response to the pandemic. He has declared it “among the most successful” and credited it to “the open, transparent, democratic nature of Taiwan’s society and culture.”

Dismissing China’s criticism over his visit, Azar has told reporters that “the message that I bring from the US government is one of reaffirming the deep partnership the US has with Taiwan in terms of security, commerce, health care and shared common values of democracy, economic freedom and liberty.”  

Azar has stated that his visit has “three overarching themes,” that is “to recognise Taiwan as an open and democratic society, executing a highly successful and transparent Covid-19 response, to reaffirm Taiwan as a long partner and friend of the United States and to note that Taiwan deserves to be recognised as a global health leader with an excellent track record of contributing to international health.”

The Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in thanked the US in her address “for their continued recognition of the Taiwan model’s contribution to global anti-pandemic efforts, as well as their strong support for Taiwan’s international participation.”

Azar’s visit came at a time when the US-China relationship is at their lowest point and in spite of the fact that it is strongly objected by Beijing.

Meanwhile, shortly before Azar met Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, Chinese air force jets briefly crossed the mid-line of the Taiwan Strait on Monday and were tracked by Taiwanese missiles, The Reuters reported citing Taiwan’s air force.

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