U.S. Officials to Hold High-Level Talks With Taiwan as Tensions With China Worsen

The meeting between top U.S. and Taiwanese officials is sure to provoke a strong reaction from Beijing.

Foreign Policy
Date: Aug 7, 2020
By: Dan Haverty

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, with US President Donald Trump, speaks on vaccine development on May 15, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will lead a delegation to Taiwan on Sunday to meet with senior Taiwanese officials in a rare high-profile visit to the island. Planned discussions will focus on the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the visit comes as tensions between Washington and Beijing have rapidly escalated. It is expected to provoke a strong reaction from China.

China considers Taiwan to be a part of its national territory, and it has blocked the island from joining several international bodies. The United States broke off formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979 as it began cultivating a closer relationship with Beijing, but it has continued to sell weapons to the country and continues to be its biggest arms supplier. Members of the U.S. government occasionally make trips to the island but visits by cabinet officials are rare.

China threatens countermeasures. In advance of Sunday’s visit, China threatened to take “strong countermeasures in response to the U.S. behavior.” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Wenbin did not provide details on what retaliatory action Beijing might take, but it threatened to sanction the U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin last month for selling weapons to Taiwan. Recent decisions to close a U.S. consulate in Chengdu and to sanction some U.S. politicians could also provide insight into the Chinese response.    [FULL  STORY]

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