China’s objections notwithstanding, US pledges ‘support’ as high profile delegation lands in Taiwan

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.

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.

Azar also reiterated that his trip “demonstrates the robust US-Taiwan partnership on global health and health security, one of many aspects of our comprehensive friendship.”
Earlier, China had reacted strongly to US delegation’s Taiwan visit. During his media briefing, Chinese foreign affairs ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “China firmly opposes any official interactions between the US and Taiwan. This position is consistent and clear. China has made stern representations with the US side both in Beijing and in Washington.”

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.”

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