US Health Secretary Alex Azar to arrive in Taiwan today

Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Image taken from twitter.com/SecAzar)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar, the most senior U.S. Cabinet official to visit Taiwan since 1979, will arrive in Taiwan this afternoon with a delegation.

The official visit is to convey U.S. recognition of Taiwan’s success in combating the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and to witness the shared belief that an open, democratic society is the only way to successfully respond to the epidemic, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said.

Azar will meet with President Tsai and several ministers during his visit, the spokesperson said, adding that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been in close communication with the Taiwan authorities on the epidemic preparedness of the delegation.

All members of the delegation were required to submit a negative test report within 72 hours prior to departure and will undergo another test upon arrival in Taiwan.

Once they test negative, no quarantine will be required, however. They will travel around Taiwan as a group, in keeping with their itinerary, according to Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center.

All members of the delegation, however, will be required to wear masks when meeting with others, in accordance with Taiwan’s COVID-19 prevention guidelines, Chuang said.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said on Saturday that the mission will be carried out by a special plane and guided by special personnel, and will be protected and separated from the general public.

China has responded to the announcement of the upcoming visit with a call for the U.S. to “stop all official exchanges with Taiwan” to avoid undermining China-U.S. relations, the Chinese state-run Global Times reported Wednesday, citing China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌).

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday, however, that China does not have the right to determine Taiwan’s foreign policy.