A member of the US cabinet met with Taiwan̵7;s president on Monday – a move that has angered China and raised tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar is the highest-ranking American politician who has held meetings on the island for decades.
Taiwan is, for all intents and purposes, an independent state, but China considers it a breakaway province.
China called on the US to respect what its principle called “one China”.
“China strongly opposes any official interaction between the US and Taiwan,” a foreign ministry spokesman said when the visit was announced last week.
“We urge the United States … not to send the wrong signals to elements of ‘Taiwan independence’ to avoid major damage to Sino-US relations.”
Mr Azar, who arrived on the island the day before meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen, said he had “three comprehensive topics” for the visit.
“The first is to recognize Taiwan as an open and democratic society, executing a very successful and transparent Covid-19 response,” he said.
“The second is to reaffirm Taiwan as a partner and longtime friend of the United States.
“Third is to note that Taiwan deserves to be recognized as a global health leader with an excellent record of contributing to international health.”
Although the US does not have a formal diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 allows the US to sell weapons on the island, and commits it to “close relations”.
Taiwan has confirmed less than 480 Covid-19 cases and only seven deaths.
She canceled flights from Wuhan on Jan. 23 – ahead of most other countries – quarantined other arrivals and was able to track and trace infections.
Taiwan is not a member of the World Health Organization because it is not recognized by China or the United Nations.
On December 31, the Taiwanese government asked the WHO for more information about the virus, but said it received no response.
This was captured by President Trump in April, in a tweet criticizing WHO.
The WHO said the Taiwanese email “did not mention human-to-human transmission”.