Taipei, Aug 11 (efe-epa).- Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Wu said Tuesday that “China wants to make Taiwan the next Hong Kong” in a meeting with the United States Health and Social Services Secretary Alex Azar, the country’s highest-ranking official to officially visit Taipei since 1979.
“China continues to pressure Taiwan to accept its political conditions, conditions that would make Taiwan the next Hong Kong. However, we are fortunate to have good friends like the US,” Wu told Azar, whose visit has sparked strong protests from Beijing.
Wu added that “it is not just about the status of Taiwan, but about sustaining democracy in the face of authoritarian aggressions. Taiwan must win this battle for democracy to prevail.”
The president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, began her second term as head of the country in May and stressed she will not accept that the island is part of China under the formula of “one country, two systems” like Hong Kong.
The island authorities are suspicious of this principle, especially since the approval of the Chinese National Security Law for Hong Kong, which, in their eyes, is undermining the freedoms in the former British colony and the autonomy it enjoyed.
Azar met yesterday with Tsai, to whom he transmitted the “message of firm support for Taiwan” from US President Donald Trump.
In welcoming the head of US health, Tsai assured that the trip “represents a great step forward in cooperation between our countries against the pandemic.”
Tsai also told Azar that the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, defended that Taiwan should be part of the World Health Organization (WHO) while “China opposes,” something that he described as “very regrettable” and “violation of the international right to health.”
The controversial visit has not been well received in Beijing, which claims the sovereignty of the island, and just an hour before the meeting between Azar and Tsai began, Chinese fighters crossed the imaginary line that divides the Taiwan Strait, a move interpreted as Beijing’s protest against the visit.
In addition, the visit comes at a time of high tension between China and the United States on several fronts, including trade and technology. Taiwan is one of the most sensitive issues for Beijing, which has declared on several occasions its intention to recover the territory by force if necessary.
China considers Taiwan a rebel province that must return to its sovereignty, while the island has operated autonomously since 1949.
Although the US broke official diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979 and changed them to Beijing, Washington has continued to maintain exchanges with Taiwan. EFE-EPA