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Azar meets Taiwan's president in highest-level talks in decades

Azar meets Taiwan's president in highest-level talks in decades
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Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Monday met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in the highest-level meeting between officials of the two nations in decades.

According to CNN, Azar said his visit "demonstrates the robust US-Taiwan partnership on global health and health security, one of many aspects of our comprehensive friendship.”

"We consider Taiwan to be a vital partner, a democratic success story, and a force for good in the world,” he added.

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The Health and Human Services secretary also said the trip was intended to have “three overarching themes,” according to the network.

“The first is to recognize Taiwan as an open and democratic society, executing a highly successful and transparent COVID-19 response,” he said. “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's response to the coronavirus has been hailed as a success story. The country, which has 23 million residents, has seen just 480 cases and seven deaths thus far.

China, which considers Taiwan a part of the country, condemned Azar’s visit, and has already blocked Taiwan from taking an observer seat at the World Health Organization, which Tsai called “highly regrettable.”

"China firmly opposes any official interactions between the US and Taiwan. This position is consistent and clear. China has made stern representations with the US side both in Beijing and in Washington," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said last week, according to CNN. "I want to stress that the one-China principle is universally recognized by the international community. Any attempt to ignore, deny or challenge that principle is doomed to fail."

Azar, in his remarks Monday, called the trip to Taiwan "consistent with the United States's long-standing 'one-China policy' and past engagement with Taiwan."