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Home / World / Senior US health official Alex Azar meets with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen

Senior US health official Alex Azar meets with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen



The visit has been condemned by Beijing, which regards Taiwan as Chinese territory and comes amid a downturn in US-China relations.

Azar arrived in Taiwan on Sunday, where he and his team underwent coronavirus tests and were seen wearing face masks. The group was met by members of the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the director general of the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control and the director of the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto US embassy.

Speaking Monday, Azar said his trip “demonstrates a strong US-Taiwan partnership on global health and health security, one of many aspects of our comprehensive friendship.”

“We consider Taiwan a life partner, a democratic success story and a force for good in the world,”

; he added.

“There are three comprehensive themes to this trip. The first is to recognize Taiwan as an open and democratic society, executing a very successful and transparent COVID-19 response. The second is to reaffirm Taiwan as a partner and longtime friend of “To highlight our history of broad cooperation on health and public health. The third is to emphasize that Taiwan deserves to be recognized as a global health leader with an excellent record of contributing to international health.”

Taiwan has been widely hailed for its effective response to the coronavirus, with 479 cases and seven deaths from a population of 23 million people. This success served to highlight Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Organization (WHO), where China has blocked its democratic neighbor from gaining an observer seat.

Cross-strained tensions

Although the Communist Party has never controlled Taiwan, Beijing considers the island a sovereign part of China.

“China strongly opposes any official interaction between the US and Taiwan. This position is stable and clear. China has made tough representations with the US side in both Beijing and Washington,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin. last week.

“I want to emphasize that the one-China principle is universally recognized by the international community. Attempt any attempt to ignore, deny or oppose that principle is doomed to fail.”

After the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, when the defeated nationalist government withdrew to Taiwan, the Republic of China – as the island is officially known – continued to maintain diplomatic relations and a United Nations seat, meaning they were in it. really two Chinas competing for recognition and alliances.

As many countries opened relations with the People’s Republic of China, they severed ties with Taiwan, which lost its seat at the UN in 1971.

Today, few countries have diplomatic relations with the island, instead recognizing Beijing as the legitimate “one-Chinese” government. However, many countries, including the US, do not accept Chinese claims to sovereignty over the island of Taiwan.

In recent years, as Taiwan shifted further from China’s orbit by electing Tsai’s Democratic Pro-independence Party, calls have grown in some neighborhoods for countries to do more to support the island in the face of Chinese pressure, both military and diplomatic.

The coronavirus crisis, and Taiwan’s successful response, has strengthened Taipei’s position globally, with dozens of countries backing a motion at a recent WHO meeting – eventually dropped due to time constraints – to readmit Taiwan as an observer.

With rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, the US seems willing to engage with Taiwan much more than in the past, including arms sales and visits like Azar.

Speaking Monday, Azar said his visit was “in line with the United States’ simultaneous standing policy and past engagement with Taiwan.”

Paula Hancocks reported from Taiwan. James Griffiths reported from Hong Kong.


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