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AFP
August 10, 2020

US begins highest level Taiwan visit in decades

World

AFP
August 10, 2020

Taipei: A senior member of US President Donald Trump’s administration landed in Taiwan on Sunday for Washington’s highest level visit since switching diplomatic recognition to China in 1979, a trip Beijing has condemned.

During the three-day visit Health Secretary Alex Azar will meet President Tsai Ing-wen, who advocates Taiwan being recognised as a sovereign nation and is loathed by China’s leaders. Tsai’s office said the meeting would take place Monday morning.

Azar is the most senior US cabinet member to visit Taiwan in decades and his visit comes as relations between the world’s two biggest economic powers plunge to historic lows.

In recent days, Trump has ordered sweeping restrictions on popular Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat and the US Treasury Department slapped sanctions on Hong Kong’s leader over a tough law that curbs dissent.

Washington has billed the Taiwan trip as an opportunity to learn from the island’s fight against the coronavirus and to celebrate its progressive values.

“This trip is a recognition of Taiwan’s success in combating Covid-19 and a testament to the shared beliefs that open and democratic societies are best equipped to combating disease threats like Covid-19,” a health and human services department official told reporters ahead of the visit. But Beijing balks at any recognition of self-ruled Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory and vows to one day seize, by force if necessary.