US and Taiwan tout ‘democratic’ effort on virus to China’s chagrin

Beijing plans military drills near the island following Azar's visit

Nikkei Asian Review
Date: August 11, 2020
By: Yu :Nakamura and Alex Fang, Nikkei staff writers

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, left, speaks as Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen looks on in a news conference at the Presidential Office in Taipei on Aug. 10. (Photo courtesy of Central News Agency)

TAIPEI/NEW YORK — U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the most senior American official to visit Taiwan in four decades, hailed Taipei's success in containing the coronavirus as "a tribute to the open, transparent, democratic nature of Taiwan's society and culture."

The comment, made at a press conference Monday, was a thinly veiled jab at mainland China's authoritarian system, which has been blamed for Beijing's hobbled initial response to the outbreak and the lack of information disclosure.

Both Washington and Taipei stressed that the trip by Azar was aimed at strengthening cooperation on fighting the virus. But there are signs that the trip was carefully timed to rankle China as tensions between Beijing and Washington continue to escalate.

"Beijing opposes all interactions between officials from the U.S. and Taiwan, so it is obviously irritated," said Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia and director of the China Power Project at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. "The Chinese are particularly on the alert because they think the U.S. may be weakening its commitment to, or even abandoning, its 'One China' policy," she said.    [FULL  STORY]

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