U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar will visit Taiwan in coming days, his office said Tuesday, marking the highest-level visit by a U.S. official since formal ties ended in 1979 – a move China described as “endangering peace.”
Secretary Azar will meet with senior Taiwan counterparts, coronavirus responders and experts on behalf of U.S. President Donald Trump, HHS said in a statement.
Will visit #Taiwan in the coming days to convey @POTUS’s support for their global health leadership and to underscore our shared belief that free and democratic societies are the best model for protecting and promoting health.
— Secretary Alex Azar (@SecAzar) August 5, 2020
Taiwan’s strong performance in handling its coronavirus outbreak has drawn global plaudits while highlighting its exclusion from the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) and other U.N. bodies.
Despite its close proximity to mainland Communist China, where the deadly global pandemic first originated last December in the regional city of Wuhan, the island of 23 million has recorded just 476 cases and seven deaths from COVID-19, largely as a result of rigorous testing and case tracing.
It also tried to warn the world about the dangers posed by the coronavirus, something the W.H.O. chose to ignore due to its commitment to Communist China.
Taiwan Publishes December Letter Warning WHO About Chinese Coronavirus https://t.co/RGLLj6Smtf
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) April 15, 2020
China described Azar’s visit to Taiwan as endangering “peace and stability” in the region and warned Washington not to proceed.
“China firmly opposes official exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan,” Wang Wenbin, a spokesman of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a regular briefing Wednesday.
“We urge the U.S. to abide by the one-China principle… stop all forms of official exchanges with Taiwan… and refrain from sending any wrong signals to the Taiwan independence forces.”
During his visit, Azar will meet with President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said, which will infuriate China further as it exemplifies new and stronger ties developing between Washington and Taipei.
We look forward to welcoming @SecAzar & the @HHSGov delegation. This is the highest level visit by a U.S. Cabinet official since 1979! #Taiwan & the #US are like-minded partners cooperating closely in combating #Coronavirus & promoting freedom, democracy & human rights worldwide. https://t.co/v3K19n1znE
— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) August 5, 2020
“Taiwan has been a model of transparency and cooperation in global health during the Covid-19 pandemic and long before it,” Azar said in a statement. “I look forward to conveying President Trump’s support for Taiwan’s global health leadership and underscoring our shared belief that free and democratic societies are the best model for protecting and promoting health.”
His department, describing the trip as “historic”, said Azar would be accompanied by Mitchell Wolfe, chief medical officer of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other members of the administration.