Taiwan faces an increasingly difficult position as China pressures the democratic island to accept terms that would make it the next Hong Kong, its top diplomat told US Health Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday.
Azar came to Taiwan on Sunday as the top US official who had been visiting for four decades. This China-condemned trip claims the island as its own.
Chinese warplanes briefly crossed the centerline of the sensitive cross-strait Monday and were pursued by Taiwanese anti-aircraft missiles, part of what Taipei sees as a pattern of Beijing harassment.
Azar’s trip to Taiwan also coincided with another crackdown in China-ruled Hong Kong, where police arrested media magnate Jimmy Lai on Monday under a tough new national security law.
“Our lives have become increasingly difficult as China continues to press Taiwan to accept its political conditions, conditions that make Taiwan the next Hong Kong,”
China has proposed a “one country, two systems” model of autonomy to get Taiwan to accept its rule, as used in Hong Kong.
The proposal was rejected by all major parties and the government in Taiwan.
Wu said Taiwan was fortunate to have friends like Azar in the US to fight for Taiwan’s international space.
“We know that it’s not just about Taiwan’s status, but about maintaining democracy in the face of authoritarian aggression. Taiwan must win these battles for democracy to win.”
Washington broke official relations with Taipei in 1979 in favor of Beijing, but is still Taiwan’s largest arms supplier. The Trump administration has made strengthening its support for the Democratic Island a priority as relations with China are sour on issues such as human rights and trade.
Azar is in Taiwan not only to offer government support for their democracy, but also to learn more about the successful fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Taiwan has kept its infection numbers low thanks to early and effective prevention efforts.
Azar said the world should recognize Taiwan’s health achievements, referring to Taiwan’s expulsion from the World Health Organization (WHO) due to Chinese objections that see Taiwan merely as a headstrong province.
“Especially during a pandemic, but at all times, international organizations should not be places where politics can be conducted. They have to be places for constructive, open dialogue and cooperation.”
Both China and WHO said Taiwan has received the help it needs during the pandemic.
Reuters news agency