Taiwan’s president praises relationship with US as tensions with China grow

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The president of Taiwan praised the relationship between her country and Washington in the face of mounting threats from China, just days after Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar became the highest ranking US official to visit the island nation in four decades.

“As effective our military is, we cannot stand alone without support from the community of like-minded democracies. I am proud that the relationship between Taiwan and the US has never been closer,” President Tsai Ing-Wen said during a video presentation to the Hudson Institute think tank on Wednesday.

She noted that a Taiwanese representative has arrived in Washington and looks forward to working more closely with the US.

“In my second term, I will continue our cooperation with the US. Foremost amongst my priorities is to establish a constructive security relationship built on the clear understanding of our shared interests in the region,” Tsai said.

The Chinese Communist Party condemned Azar’s visit to Taiwan, which it considers a rogue Chinese province, and flew jet fighters into the Taiwan Strait shortly before the health secretary met with Tsai on Monday.

Beijing has signaled that it will seek to take over the country by 2049 – the 100th anniversary of the creation of the People’s Republic of China.

Tsai said Taiwan’s 23 million people have a right to determine their own future, even if that undermines Beijing’s will.

“We must ensure that cross-strait interactions do not jeopardize our freedoms, democracy, and way of life. The people of Taiwan expect nothing less from their democratically elected government. Upholding these principles requires us to be able to defend Taiwan against coercive actions,” Tsai said.

Azar praised Taiwan’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic during his visit.

“Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent, democratic nature of Taiwan’s society and culture,” Azar told Tsai.

Taiwan has one of the lowest infection rates in the world with fewer than 500 cases and seven deaths.

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