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2020-08-09 HKT 15:32
A senior member of US President Donald Trump's administration on Sunday begins Washington's highest level visit to Taiwan since the US switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979.
Health Secretary Alex Azar will meet President Tsai Ing-wen during his three-day visit.
Washington has billed the Taiwan trip as an opportunity to learn from the island's fight against the coronavirus and to celebrate its progressive values.
"This trip is a recognition of Taiwan's success in combating Covid-19 and a testament to the shared beliefs that open and democratic societies are best equipped to combating disease threats like Covid-19," a health and human services department official told reporters ahead of the visit.
Last week, Beijing described Azar's visit as a threat to "peace and stability" and warned against Washington making any "dangerous moves".
As well as meeting Tsai, Azar will hold talks with his counterpart Chen Shih-chung and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.
He will also meet coronavirus experts and give a speech to public health students as well as alumni of a training programme with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Taiwan has become a poster child for defeating the coronavirus thanks to a well-honed track and tracing programme as well as firm border controls.
Despite its proximity and economic links to the mainland, where the virus originated, it has recorded fewer than 500 infections and seven deaths. (AFP)