As bilateral ties between the United States and China reach an all-time low, a high-profile US delegation led by US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar touched down in Taiwan and pledged “strong support and friendship” to the island.
This is the first highest-level meeting between the US and the self-ruled island of Taiwan in decades. Beijing, which considers Taiwan as part of its territory, has condemned the visit. Azar, who described Taiwan as a vital partner, also had a detailed meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
Thank you, President Tsai, for welcoming me to Taiwan today. It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from the United States to #Taiwan. https://t.co/tsZTN9gp9T
— Secretary Alex Azar (@SecAzar) August 10, 2020
Recognizing Taiwan as a democratic society, Azar, who landed in Taiwan a day ahead of his meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen, said there were “three overarching themes” for the visit.
“The first is to recognise Taiwan as an open and democratic society, executing a highly successful and transparent Covid-19 response. Second is to reaffirm Taiwan as a long partner and friend of the United States and the third is to note that Taiwan deserves to be recognised as a global health leader with an excellent track record of contributing to international health,” he said.
Had a productive meeting with @SecAzar & the @HHSGov delegation. Thank you to @POTUS and @SecPompeo for supporting the #TaiwanModel & our international participation. Working together, we can prove that democracy is the best system to overcome global challenges. pic.twitter.com/8qztU4ClOK
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) August 10, 2020
He further said, “For the China-US relationship, the Taiwan question is one of the utmost importance with the highest level of sensitivity, and the one-China principle is the political foundation. We urge the US to adhere to the one-China principle and the three joint communiques, stop making official interactions of any kind with Taiwan, handle Taiwan-related issues prudently and properly, and not to send any wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” elements to avoid severe damage to China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. I want to stress that the one-China principle is universally recognized by the international community. Any attempt to ignore, deny or challenge that principle is doomed to fail.”