Fri, 18 Sep 2020

U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar attends a press conference on the COVID-19 at the White House in Washington D.C. March 10, 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

Azar is the highest ranking cabinet-level U.S. official to visit Taiwan since 1979 when Beijing and Washington established diplomatic ties. The visit stands as Washington's fresh flagrant provocation against the one-China principle, and a serious challenge to the political foundation of China-U.S. relations.

by Xinhua writer He Fei

BEIJING, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- A delegation led by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar arrived in Taiwan on Sunday in the name of enhancing anti-pandemic cooperation.

Azar is the highest ranking cabinet-level U.S. official to visit Taiwan since 1979 when Beijing and Washington established diplomatic ties. The visit stands as Washington's fresh flagrant provocation against the one-China principle, and a serious challenge to the political foundation of China-U.S. relations.

In fact, it is not the first time that Washington has sought to challenge China's red line on the Taiwan question. Earlier this year, the United States flagrantly supported Taiwan's attempt to join the World Health Organization. And over the past few years, the incumbent U.S. administration has continued to sell arms to Taiwan, and passed the so-called Taiwan Travel Act despite strong opposition from Beijing.

Stepping up anti-pandemic cooperation sounds somewhat necessary when the once-in-a-century outbreak is still raging across the planet. Yet considering the fact that Washington has many other ways to do it while respecting the one-China principle, as well as its long history of provocation against China on issues concerning Taiwan, the real purpose of Azar's visit is too obvious to miss.

Photo taken on Sept. 24, 2015 shows the national flags of China (R) and the United States as well as the flag of Washington D.C. on the Constitution Avenue in Washington, capital of the United States.(Xinhua/Bao Dandan)

With the incumbent administration's approval rating dropping and re-election anxieties ballooning, the White House has grown increasingly desperate to divert the American public's attention away from its fouled-up COVID-19 response. As Washington has in recent days been gearing up its anti-China campaign, its fiddling with the Taiwan question has come no surprise.

By challenging the one-China principle, Washington is also trying to test where Beijing's bottom line lies and blur its clear-cut commitments on the Taiwan question in salami tactics.

In the three China-U.S. joint communiques, the most fundamental political documents that have ensured stability and progress in bilateral ties over the past more than four decades, Washington has not only recognized that "there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China," but also promised that "the people of the United States will maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan."

Thus, whatever excuses the White House can come up with for its sending a high-ranking official to the Chinese island province cannot change the fact that it has blatantly violated the key and long-standing political consensus between the two countries.

Moreover, the current U.S. administration, which views China as a "main geopolitical rival" and "revisionist power," is also repeating the same old trick of emboldening separatists in Taiwan to create tensions in the Taiwan Strait, impede China's unification drive and contain the country's development.

Marine One carrying U.S. President Donald Trump takes off from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington D.C., the United States, on May 5, 2020. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua)

For those in Taiwan who are trying to count on the United States for their independence attempt, while indulging themselves in the illusion that Washington will help with their secessionist plots, they must be awakened to the fact they are no more than a cat's-paw for Washington's drive to maintain America's supremacy in the Asia Pacific.

Washington's hardliners should know that their provocation against the one-China principle, which has won growing global recognition, will only harden Beijing's already rock-solid determination to achieve the mainland's unification with Taiwan, and to preserve China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. There is no way for China to compromise on its core interests.

They should also grasp the fact that their escalation of provocation on the Taiwan question is pushing what many dub as the world's most important bilateral relationship further down the wrong path, which will in turn undermine the much-needed bilateral cooperation to tackle a wide range of pressing global challenges, particularly the rampaging coronavirus pandemic.

Washington must stop interfering in China's internal affairs and further harming the high-stake China-U.S. relationship. And if it truly wants to contribute to the world's fight against the pandemic, it should offer real input, rather than using it as a pretext for its wicked purposes. ■

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