President Tsai Ing-wen has made defense modernization a priority, including building new submarines and upgrading Taiwan's F-16 fighter fleet.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during a roundtable discussion on "America's seniors" at the White House in Washington June 15, 2020.
The United States is negotiating the sale of at the very least 4 of its significant refined aerial drones to Taiwan for the initial time, according to 6 US sources familiar with the negotiations, in a offer that is probable to ratchet up tensions with China.
In the recent past, Azar was highly criticized for his role in the sluggish role in the United States response in the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore replaced by the Vice-President as task force leader to combat the coronavirus.
Alex Azar's three-day trip is being hailed as an opportunity to strengthen cooperation in combating COVID-19.
Azar will visit Taiwan's health ministry on Monday in order to sign a memorandum of understanding. "Any attempt to ignore, deny or challenge the One China principle is doomed to fail", he said, referring to China's stance that the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan all constitute one country.
Taiwan is negotiating with the US for the purchase of at least four high-end SeaGuardian military drones, sources told Reuters.
In accordance with COVID-19 rules, there were no handshakes. Azar is joined by Dr. Mitchell Wolfe, chief medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Brian Harrison, health and human services chief of staff. HHS highlighted that Azar will be the first U.S. Cabinet member to visit Taiwan in six years, and will be "the highest-level visit by a U.S. Cabinet official since 1979". "Credit to President Trump for not letting Beijing's ire stop him from sending Azar".
Throughout the 1990s, the United States sent trade officials to Taiwan with regularity.
Gerrit van der Wees, a former Dutch diplomat who teaches the history of Taiwan at George Mason University, said that Trump had initially seemed hesitant, delaying the plane sale as he sought a trade pact with China.
In sharp contrast with the USA view of Chinese tech companies as national security threats, Taiwan is on Washington's list of 30 "clean countries", with all five of its telecom carriers recognized as "trusted vendors".
In the past two years, there has been continuous tension between the USA and China over the trade and Chinese Technologies companies.
The foreign ministry praises Azar as "Friend of Taiwan" and said that Taiwanese President Tsai will meet him on Wednesday, they further added the USA visit, "proves that mutual trust between the two sides is on a solid footing and communication is smooth".