China condemned the scheduled visit of the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to Taiwan and said that “China strongly opposes any official US-Taiwan interaction. . “
“We urge the United States to adhere to the China principle and the three joint communiqués, stop making official interactions of any kind with Taiwan, handle Taiwan-related issues prudently and properly,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at Wednesday’s press conference.
Alex Azar is expected to meet with pro-democracy President Tsai Ing-wen, who is pushing Taiwan away from mainland China and rejecting China’s policy in the country. Azar’s trip is the first by a Cabinet member in six years and the highest level of a visiting American officer since 1979.
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Wenbin warned the United States against embracing “Taiwan independence” in order to avoid severely damaging China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. ”
Tsai welcomed Azar’s visit and noted the significance of the historic trip following months of high tension between the United States and China, beginning after the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China. .
“Your timely visit is another testament to Taiwan’s strong U.S.-based partnership based on our long-standing friendship and shared values,” she wrote.
Azar announced his trip on Tuesday, a move the administration was likely to cause further tensions with China, in an effort to “strengthen US-Taiwan cooperation to fight the pandemic.” global COVID-19. “
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“Taiwan was a model of transparency and cooperation in global health during the COVID-19 pandemic and long before that,” Azar said Tuesday in a statement. “I look forward to delivering President Trump’s support for Taiwan’s global health leadership and underlining our common belief that free and democratic societies are the best model for health protection and promotion. “
Taiwan identifies as a country known as the Republic of China (ROC), which is separate from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). But in 1971 the United Nations denounced the ROC and was replaced under the PRC as a one-China policy.
Senior U.S. officials avoided trips to Taiwan after 1979, in an effort to maintain peaceful relations with China.
China protested the last U.S. envoy to Taiwan, six years ago when she then visited Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy.
China has rejected any official or unofficial link between Washington DC and Taipei.
“I want to emphasize that China’s principle is universally recognized by the international community. Any attempt to ignore, deny or challenge that principle is doomed to fail,” Wenbin told reporters Wednesday.
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Taiwan’s strong measures to address the coronavirus was another defining separation from mainland China, and received international attention from the UN as the 23 million island recorded only 476 confirmed cases and seven deaths.
“In contrast to the authoritarian systems, societies and economies of the United States and Taiwan are uniquely equipped to drive global progress in areas such as medicine and science to help the world address emerging threats, “Azar said. “The COVID-19 pandemic is the latest example of joint efforts between the United States and Taiwan to face global challenges for the good of the world.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.