TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan faces an increasingly difficult position as China pressures the democratic island to accept conditions that could make it the next Hong Kong, top diplomat they told US Health Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday.
Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu speaks at a press conference in Taipei, Taiwan, August 11, 2020. REUTERS / Ann Wang
Azar arrived in Taiwan on Sunday as the highest-ranking US official visiting in four decades, a trip condemned by China, which claims the island as its own.
Chinese fighters on Monday quickly crossed the median line of the sensitive Taiwan Strait, and were tracked down by Taiwan’s air defense missiles, part of what Taipei considered to be pictured. pattern of harassment by Beijing.
Azar’s trip to Taiwan coincides with a further crackdown in China-ruled Hong Kong, where police arrested media magnate Jimmy Lai under a tough new national security law.
“Our lives are getting more and more difficult as China continues to pressure Taiwan to accept its political conditions which will make Taiwan the next Hong Kong,” Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said during a joint media appearance with Azar in Taipei.
China has proposed a “one country, two systems” autonomous model for Taiwan to accept its rule, the same way it is used in Hong Kong. The proposal was rejected by all major parties and the Taiwanese government.
Wu said Taiwan is fortunate to have friends like Azar in the United States who help fight for Taiwan’s international space.
“We know this is not just about the state of Taiwan, but also about maintaining democracy in the face of dictator’s invasion. Taiwan must win these battles for democracy to prevail.
Washington severed official ties with Taipei in 1979 in favor of Beijing but remains Taiwan’s largest arms supplier. The Trump administration has prioritized increasing support for the democratic island as relations with China have become difficult on issues including human rights and trade.
Azar in Taiwan is not only to provide government support for their democracy, but also to learn about the successful fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Taiwan has kept the number of infections low thanks to early and effective containment efforts.
Azar said the world should recognize Taiwan’s medical achievements, pointing to Taiwan’s removal from the World Health Organization (WHO) due to opposition from China, which considers Taiwan to be a province. backward.
“Especially during the pandemic, but all the time, international organizations shouldn’t be the place to play politics. They must be a venue for constructive, open dialogue and cooperation ”.
Both China and WHO said that Taiwan was provided with the assistance it needed during the pandemic.
Report by Yimou Lee; Written by Ben Blanchard; Edited by Lincoln Feast.