US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar wearing a face mask attends a meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at the presidential office, in Taipei, Taiwan August 10, 2020. Photograph:( AFP )
The visit is largely being seen as a token of support to Taiwan, which has for long been sidelined diplomatically with countries favouring recognition of China instead
United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar’s diplomatic visit to Taiwan, which began on August 9 was a “true honour” for the Donald Trump administration.
The visit is largely being seen as a token of support to Taiwan, which has for long been sidelined diplomatically with countries favouring recognition of China instead, which in turn claims Taiwan as its own territory, a claim refuted by Taiwanese officials.
A success story
Azar met Tsai in the Taiwanese presidential office and claimed to have been in the island country to understand and learn from Taiwan’s success in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, and the health model which compliments it. Azar had arrived in Taiwan on Sunday in what marked the highest-level US to visit to the country in four decades. The trip drew ire from China, which claimed that this visit was “endangering peace”.
In 1979, the US has severed ties with Taiwan to favour China. In the backdrop of the ongoing trade spat escalated by the pandemic, Trump has prioritised support for the country, while also boosting arms sales.
China has promised to issue sanctions for this visit. China believes Taiwan to be its own province, and believes force may be used if needed to bring the territory under their control.
Azar had arrived in Taipei on a US government aircraft on Sunday afternoon, where he was greeted by Brent Christensen, the de facto US ambassador to Taiwan, with Taiwan Deputy Foreign Minister Tien Chung-kwang in attendance.
Protocols in place
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, no handshakes were seen, with all officials donning masks.
Today, Azar is set to sign a health cooperation memorandum of understanding with Taiwan, and is set to visit Taiwan’s Centres for Disease Control.
Azar claims that he is in the country to improve economic and healthcare cooperation, and to highlight Taiwan’s role in fighting the pandemic. Azar will soon meet President Tsai Ing-wen.
All of US delegates were tested for COVID-19 before arriving, and have to mandatorily wear face masks and ensure social distancing.
Taiwan has been praised for its containment of COVID-19. Only 480 infections, mostly from outside the country were recorded in the country, and only seven people succumbed to the virus.
On the other hand, the US has the highest number of cases and deaths in the world.