After visit by U.S. cabinet secretary to Taipei, Beijing threatens military action

FPI / August 12, 2020

By Richard Fisher

One hour before the highest ranking United States official to visit Taiwan since the end of formal diplomatic relations in 1979, Health and Human Resources (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar on Aug. 10 met with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) J-11 and J-10 fighters crossed the sensitive “mid-line” of the Taiwan Strait in a deliberate provocation.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar’s Aug. 10 meeting in Taipei with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen marked the highest-level U.S. diplomatic visit to Taiwan since the 1970s. / Taiwan Presidential Office

In an Aug. 10 statement Azar said, “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent, democratic nature of Taiwan’s society and culture…President Tsai’s courage and vision in leading Taiwan’s vibrant democracy are an inspiration to the region and the world.”

Announced on Aug. 5, six days after the death of former Taiwan President Lee Teng Hui, Azar’s visit marked the most significant diplomatic move in a series of supportive Trump Administration gestures and actions toward Taiwan. These started before President Trump’s inauguration on Dec. 2, 2016 when Trump took a congratulatory phone call from President Tsai, the first presidential level communication since before 1979.

Then in August 2019 the Trump Administration approved the sale of 66 new-build Lockheed Martin F-16V multi-role fighters to Taiwan, with new phased-array radar that may be able to track up to 20 targets simultaneously.

Azar arrived in Taipei in an official U.S. Air Force C-40B transport jet, showing Taiwan a level of diplomatic recognition that had been forbidden under previous U.S. administrations.

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