STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

COVID-19 aid supplied to foreign countries discreetly to avoid objections from China: Taiwan

China claims Taiwan as its own territory and has sought to isolate it diplomatically, including barring its participation in forums such as the World Health Assembly.

Published: 11th August 2020 12:46 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th August 2020 12:48 PM   |  A+A-

Taiwanese Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung delivers a speech before the signing ceremony for an MOU with visiting U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (Photo | AP)

Taiwanese Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung delivers a speech before the signing ceremony for an MOU with visiting U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (Photo | AP)

By Associated Press

TAIPEI: Taiwan sent COVID-19 assistance to foreign countries surreptitiously to avoid protests from China, its foreign minister said on Tuesday during a meeting with the highest-level American official to visit the island in four decades.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory and has sought to isolate it diplomatically, including barring its participation in forums such as the World Health Assembly.

The trip by US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar comes against the backdrop of a sharp downturn in relations between China and the US and Azar said in his remarks that the US supported Taiwan's participation in international health forums.

China's attempts to isolated Taiwan has compelled the island at times to keep its donations of masks and personal protective equipment under the radar, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said.

ALSO READ | Hong Kongers buy arrested media mogul Jimmy Lai's 'Apple Daily' newspaper to support free press

"Truth is, we even had to deliver these supplies quietly in some occasions to keep the recipients free from trouble, trouble from Beijing," Wu said.

Taiwan has brought its virus outbreak under control, and Wu said the island has donated 51 million masks overseas, including 10 million to the US, along with other items of personal protective equipment.

He did not name the other countries to which Taiwan has made quiet donations or give other details.

Just 15 countries maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, and China has sought to peel away its remaining allies.

Wu said Chinese pressure to accept political conditions for bringing Taiwan under Beijing's control has made life "increasingly difficult."

However, acquiescence would merely turn Taiwan into another Hong Kong, Wu said, referring to recent arrests of media figures and pro-democracy activists under a new national security law being enforced in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

"We know this is not just about Taiwan's status, but about sustaining democracy in the face of authoritarian aggression," Wu said.

Azar described "political bullying" over Taiwan's exclusion from the World Health Organisation in 2018 that blocked a million-dollar Taiwanese contribution that would have helped combat an Ebola outbreak in Congo.

"Especially during a pandemic, but at all times, international organisations should not be places to play politics," Azar said.

While the US maintains only unofficial ties with Taiwan in deference to Beijing, it remains the island's most important ally and provider of arms.

A 2018 US law urged Washington to send increasingly high-level officials to Taiwan in contrast to past years when such visits were extremely rare.

Thus, Azar is the highest-level American official to visit Taiwan since their break in formal diplomatic ties in 1979.

Relations between China and the US have deteriorated over issues ranging from the South China Sea to TikTok, Hong Kong and trade.

In a throwback to the Cold War, the two recently ordered tit-for-tat closures of consulates in Houston and Chengdu and rhetorical sniping has become a daily occurrence.


Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

IPL_2020
flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp