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Meeting with Taiwan hardest blow short of war

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In another slap to Communist China by President Trump and Republicans, Alex Azar, Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services today met with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen in the highest-level official meeting between to the two countries since the détente with Red China ushered in by President Richard Nixon in the 1970s.

Taiwan, the Republic of China, is the free state island off the Chinese mainland where opponents fled from Communist forces in in 1947.  

The Communist Party refuses to recognize Taiwan as an independent country, but instead considers it a breakaway, rebellious part of China, despite having extensive economic ties to Taiwan.

“There are three overarching themes for this trip,” said Azar. “The first is to recognize Taiwan as an open and democratic society, executing a highly successful and transparent COVID-19 response. The second is to reaffirm Taiwan as a long partner and friend of the United States, and to highlight our history of broad collaboration on health and public health. The third is to note that Taiwan deserves to be recognized as a global health leader with an excellent track record of contributing to international health.”

Taiwan, with a population of 24 million, is widely credited with having one of the most successful anti-COVID efforts in the world.

Taiwan sent health experts to Wuhan, China in December 2019 when rumors first surfaced of the coronavirus epidemic, despite being told by Chinese authorities that the virus showed no human-to-human transmission.

Taiwanese health authorities were so alarmed by what they saw in Wuhan that they began monitoring arrivals from China for signs of the virus, eventually shutting down travel in advance of other countries.

Taiwan reacted from a deep distrust of China, which has lied about previous epidemics that affected Taiwan and other Pacific countries.  

“In fact, what helped fuel Taiwan’s staunch vigilance and self-reliance during the coronavirus outbreak is the constant bullying from China,” says Foreign Policy. “Given that Taiwan has faced everything from its giant neighbor—the spreading of fake news, military threats, the withholding of vital medical information during the SARS outbreak in 2003—the country knows it must be on its fullest guard whenever any major problem emerges in China.”

Azar and Tsai will be meeting to discuss what the U.S. and Taiwan can do to coordinate the future response to viral outbreaks from China and other countries.

Taiwan has been excluded from the World Health Organization at the objection of Communist China, which fears that inclusion would be de facto recognition of Taiwan’s independence from China.

“The coronavirus crisis, and Taiwan’s successful response,” says CNN, “has bolstered Taipei’s standing globally, with dozens of countries supporting a motion at a recent WHO meeting — eventually dropped due to time constraints — to readmit Taiwan as an observer.”

For the Trump administration, however, Taiwan’s admission to WHO is just preparation for full diplomatic recognition of Taiwan in the hardest blow to China short of war.

PHOTO: Pei Chen | AFP | Getty Images

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