Tags: China | Coronavirus | Trump Administration | alex azar | hhs | taiwan | diplomacy

HHS Sec. Azar: Taiwan Trip Not Political, But 'About Health'

azar standing outside in the sunlight in a suit and blue tie
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar (Mandel Ngan/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 10 August 2020 07:46 AM

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar Monday rejected complaints from critics of the Trump administration who say his trip to Taiwan three months before the presidential election is political, saying his visit there is to support the Asian country in the international health community. 

"My visit is about health," Azar told CNN's Paula Hancocks. "It's about the health of the people of Taiwan. It's about the health of the American people, and it's about the health of the people of the world."

The way for health to be protected, he added, is by "entities around the world being transparent, cooperative, collaborative, compliant with the international health regulations, and Taiwan has been a model of that."

Azar's visit to Taiwan and his meeting with its President Tsai Ing-wen come amidst protest from Beijing, which says the visit, the highest-level visit by an American Cabinet official since Washington broke formal diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979, betrays U.S. commitments not to have official contact with the island nation. 

China has cut contacts with Tsai because she refuses to recognize its claim to Taiwan. 

Hancocks said Monday that Azar praised Taiwan and other democratic countries for being transparent over how they are dealing with the pandemic, but criticized Beijing for not being open enough. 

She noted that Taiwan is an island nation of some 23 million people, but it has had less than 500 cases of coronavirus, mostly imported in, and has had only 7 deaths. 

Azar, however, rejected comparing the United States' numbers and response to other countries, telling Hancocks that because of President Donald Trump's "historic response" to the crisis, the United States has been able to ensure that the burden from the disease did not exceed the capacity of the United States health system. 

"No American died because of a lack of a ventilator or lack of an ICU [intensive care unit] bed," said Azar. "That's a critical, critical factor in terms of how we engaged in mitigation steps to keep, as we say, the curve within capacity. That was the core strategy, initially, to delay and flatten the curve, to keep the burden within the system's capacity."

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Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar Monday rejected complaints from critics of the Trump administration who say his trip to Taiwan three months before the presidential election is political, saying his visit there is to support the Asian country in the international health...
alex azar, hhs, taiwan, diplomacy
360
2020-46-10
Monday, 10 August 2020 07:46 AM
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