US cabinet member lauds Taiwan’s democracy during historic visit

A US cupboard member heaped reward on Taiwan’s democracy and its success in battling the coronavirus as he met the island’s chief on Monday throughout a historic go to that China has slammed as a risk to peace.

Well being Secretary Alex Azar is in Taipei for a three-day go to billed as the very best stage go to from the US because it switched diplomatic recognition from the island to China in 1979.

His journey comes as relations between the US and China are in tumult, with the 2 sides clashing over a variety of commerce, navy and safety points, in addition to the coronavirus pandemic.

Authoritarian China insists Taiwan is its personal territory and vows to at some point seize it.

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 coronavirus has been among the many most profitable on the earth, and that could 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 Well being Group (WHO), a physique Beijing retains the island frozen out of.

“Political concerns ought to by no means take priority over the rights to well being,” Tsai stated, calling Beijing’s refusal to let Taiwan be a part of “extremely regrettable”.

Quickly after the assembly Taipei’s defence ministry stated Chinese language fighter jets had made a short incursion throughout the median line within the Taiwan Strait that the 2 sides have lengthy handled as a boundary.

Chinese language warplanes routinely fly into Taiwan’s defence zone to place strain on the island however crossings of the median line are a lot rarer as a result of it’s such a delicate space.

“China has at all times firmly opposed official exchanges between the US and Taiwan,” Chinese language international ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian instructed reporters on Monday afternoon.

– Warming ties –
Azar disregarded China’s criticism when requested about Beijing’s anger over his go to.

“The message that I carry from the US authorities is certainly one of reaffirming the deep partnership the US has with Taiwan by way of safety, commerce, well being care and shared frequent values of democracy, financial freedom and liberty,” he instructed reporters earlier than his assembly with Tsai.

Azar has beforehand been vital 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 saying Taiwan was clever “not belief a few of the assertions” coming from Beijing or the WHO.

In addition to assembly Tsai, Azar will maintain talks together with his counterpart Chen Shih-chung and International Minister Joseph Wu.

Taiwan has grow to be a poster little one for defeating the coronavirus because of a well-honed monitor and tracing programme in addition to agency border controls.
Regardless of 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 strategy 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.

All through the 1990s the US 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.
“The truth that they did not select to ship a nationwide safety advisor or another person suggests they’re making an attempt to return as shut as potential 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 Safety Company led a delegation.

However Washington has described Azar’s go to as the very best stage journey made by a senior administration official for the reason that diplomatic swap.

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