US Health Secretary Alex Azar to visit Taiwan soon; move likely to worsen friction with China for Washington, Taipei

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US Well being Secretary Alex Azar to go to Taiwan quickly; transfer prone to worsen friction with China for Washington, Taipei

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Azar’s would be the highest-level go to by a US Cupboard official because the break in diplomatic ties between Washington and Taipei in 1979

Taipei: The US says Well being and Human Providers Secretary Alex Azar will go to Taiwan in coming days within the highest-level go to by an American Cupboard official because the break in formal diplomatic relations between Washington and Taipei in 1979.

The go to will doubtless create new frictions between the US and China, which claims Taiwan as its personal territory to be annexed by drive if needed. Taiwan is a key irritant within the troubled relationship between the world’s two largest economies, who’re additionally at odds over commerce, know-how, the South China Sea and China’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The US maintains solely unofficial ties with Taiwan in deference to Beijing, however is the island’s most vital ally and supplier of protection gear.

The American Institute in Taiwan, which operates as Washington’s de facto embassy on the island, mentioned Wednesday that Azar’s “historic go to will strengthen the US-Taiwan partnership and improve US-Taiwan cooperation to fight the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.”

Azar could be the primary HHS secretary to go to Taiwan and the primary Cupboard member to go to in six years. In 2014, then-Environmental Safety Company administrator Gina McCarthy visited Taiwan, sparking a protest from China’s international ministry, which accused the US of betraying commitments made to it about sustaining solely unofficial hyperlinks with Taipei.

“Taiwan has been a mannequin of transparency and cooperation in world well being throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and lengthy earlier than it,” Azar mentioned within the AIT assertion. “This journey represents a chance to strengthen our financial and public well being cooperation with Taiwan, particularly as the US and different nations work to strengthen and diversify our sources for essential medical merchandise.”

Azar’s go to was facilitated by the 2018 passage of the Taiwan Journey Act that inspired sending higher-level officers to Taiwan after many years throughout which such contacts had been uncommon and freighted with safeguards to keep away from roiling ties with Beijing.

China objects to all official contact between Taiwan and the US. However its growing diplomatic strain, together with poaching away a number of of its remaining diplomatic allies and excluding it from worldwide gatherings together with the World Well being Meeting, are seen as more and more already appreciable bipartisan sympathy for Taipei and prompting new measures to strengthen governmental and army ties.

Taiwan’s robust efficiency in dealing with its COVID-19 outbreak has additionally received it plaudits whereas highlighting its exclusion from the World Well being Group and different UN our bodies.

“In distinction to authoritarian techniques, US and Taiwan societies and economies are uniquely outfitted to drive world progress in areas akin to medication and science to assist the world sort out rising threats. The COVID-19 pandemic is the newest instance of joint US-Taiwan efforts to confront world challenges for the nice of the world,” AIT mentioned.

It mentioned Azar will meet with senior Taiwan counterparts, COVID-19 specialists and different Taiwan companions to debate the illness, world well being and Taiwan’s position as a provider of medical gear and know-how.

Particulars on timing of the go to could be introduced later, it mentioned.

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