China’s anger over Azar’s Taiwan visit reflects ‘weakness’: Pompeo

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (CNA)

WASHINGTON (CNA) — United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said the mere fact China can get so worked up over an American official’s visit to Taiwan only goes to reflect its “weakness.”

“I think that tells you a lot about the weakness of the Chinese Communist Party and the fact that it could feel threatened from such a visit,” Pompeo said in an interview on the conservative Newsmax TV.

The comment came as part of answer to a question on what message Washington was sending to Beijing with the visit of U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to Taiwan this week.

Even though the visit has had a clear political component, Pompeo said the sole purpose of Azar’s visit was to learn how Taiwan has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic and better understand the “Wuhan virus.”

“I’m always surprised that when the United States sends its health minister to another country why anyone would find that so threatening. He went there for the noble humanitarian purpose of reducing risk to citizens all across the world, including Chinese citizens,” Pompeo said.

“It seems pretty weak when the mere presence of a health minister in a particular place working to defeat this global pandemic you find threatening or you find angering or you find somehow challenging to your very nation’s national security,” Pompeo added.

Asked what would be the red line for the U.S. that would lead the U.S. to go in and defend Taiwan, Pompeo called it “a very sensitive issue.”

“We thoroughly intend to uphold our obligations and commitments with respect to the historical understandings between the United States and China on Taiwan,” he said, stressing that Azar’s visit is “wholly consistent with those commitments.”

“We’ve told both the Chinese and the Taiwanese that we are going to continue to abide by that set of understandings. It’s enshrined in U.S. law as well, so it’s an obligation that we do so. I am confident that we’ll continue to keep up those promises,” he said.