US Health Secretary Alex Azar will visit Taiwan in the coming days, marking the highest-level visit by a US representative in four decades, his services said Tuesday (Aug. 4). This move risks angering China, which sees the island as a renegade province.
In a separate statement, the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry said Alex Azar would meet with President Tsai Ing-wen during his visit.
China describes Taiwan as the most sensitive issue in Sino-US relations, and Mr. Azar’s trip is likely to exacerbate tensions between Beijing and Washington.
“Taiwan was a model of transparency and cooperation in global health during the Covid-19 pandemic and long before it”, Mr. Azar said in a statement.
He added that he was eager to convey US President Donald Trump’s support for the « leadership » of Taiwan facing the health crisis and “To underline our common belief that free and democratic societies are the best model to protect and promote health“.
The US Department of Health, describing this move as “Historical”, said Azar would be accompanied by a senior representative from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other members of the US administration.
Like most countries, the United States does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, having severed these in favor of Beijing in 1979, but it is the main supplier of arms and the main supporter of the island. on the international scene.
Gina McCarthy, then head of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was the last high-level representative to visit Taiwan in 2014.
Taiwan has been praised for its handling of the health crisis. The island has succeeded in limiting the number of cases of contamination thanks to early and effective measures. In March, Donald Trump promulgated a law that requires increased US support for Taiwan internationally.