US cupboard member meets Taiwan president

TAIPEI: A US cupboard member met Taiwan‘s chief Monday throughout the highest stage go to from the United States because it switched diplomatic recognition from the island to China in 1979, a visit that Beijing has condemned.
Health Secretary Alex Azar is in Taipei for a three-day go to to advertise shared democratic values and the island’s success in taming the coronavirus.
His journey comes as relations between the United States and China are in tumult, with the 2 sides clashing over a variety of commerce, army and safety points, in addition to the pandemic.
China, which insists Taiwan is its personal territory and vows to in the future reclaim it, has described Azar’s go to as a risk to “peace and stability”.
On Monday morning, Azar met President Tsai Ing-wen, who advocates the island being recognised as a sovereign nation and is loathed by China’s leaders.
“Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the many most profitable on the earth, and that may be a tribute to the open, clear, democratic nature of Taiwan’s society and tradition,” Azar instructed Tsai.
Tsai thanked the US for supporting its bid to be a part of the World Health Organization (WHO), a physique Beijing retains the island frozen out of.
“Political issues ought to by no means take priority over the rights to well being,” Tsai stated, calling Beijing’s refusal to let Taiwan be part of “extremely regrettable”.
Azar dismissed China’s criticism when requested about Beijing’s anger over his go to.
“The message that I carry from the US authorities is one in every of reaffirming the deep partnership the United States has with Taiwan when it comes to safety, commerce, well being care and shared widespread values of democracy, financial freedom and liberty,” he instructed reporters earlier than his assembly with Tsai.
Azar has beforehand been crucial of Beijing’s response to the coronavirus, which started in central China, in addition to the WHO.
It was a theme he repeated on Monday.
“(Taiwan) knew very early on… to not belief a number of the assertions popping out of there (Beijing) or validation from the World Health Organization,” he stated.
As nicely as assembly Tsai, Azar will maintain talks along with his counterpart Chen Shih-chung and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.
Taiwan has change into a poster baby for defeating the coronavirus because of a well-honed observe and tracing programme in addition to agency border controls.
Despite its proximity and financial hyperlinks to China it has recorded fewer than 500 infections and 7 deaths.
In distinction the US has recorded probably the most deaths on the earth with greater than 160,000 fatalities.
Critics have accused US President Donald Trump of ramping up criticism of China as a solution to divert from rising public anger over his administration’s coronavirus response, particularly as he fights for re-election in November.
Washington stays the main arms provider to Taiwan however has traditionally been cautious in holding official contacts with it.
Throughout the 1990s the United States despatched commerce officers to Taiwan with regularity.
Douglas Paal, a former head of the American Institute in Taiwan, Washington’s de facto embassy, stated the Trump administration was nonetheless paying heed to China’s crimson line — that no US official dealing with nationwide safety go to Taiwan.
The distinction this time, he stated, is the context, with Azar travelling at a time when relations between Washington and Beijing have hit a brand new low.
“Sending him to Taiwan exhibits respect for the previous framework whereas placing a finger in China’s eye on the similar time,” Paal stated.
“The incontrovertible fact that they did not select to ship a nationwide safety advisor or another person suggests they’re attempting to return as shut as attainable to China’s crimson line however do not need to cross it.”
The final cupboard minister to go to Taiwan was in 2014 when the then head of the Environmental Protection Agency led a delegation.
But Washington has billed Azar’s go to as the very best stage journey made by a senior administration official because the diplomatic swap.

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