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President Tsai meets US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar
President Tsai meets US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar

President Tsai Ing-wen met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar on the morning of August 10. The president stated that we look forward to making substantial progress on joint efforts to develop and produce vaccines and drugs. She also emphasized once again that political considerations should not override the human right to health.

A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:

I would like to offer Secretary Azar and all the members of your delegation a warm welcome to Taiwan. Over the past few months, Taiwan and the United States have worked closely together to address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Your visit testifies to the fact that over the past 40 years or so Taiwan-US relations have never been better, and represents a big step forward in our bilateral cooperation to prevent pandemics.

Since the release of the Taiwan-US Joint Statement on a Partnership against Coronavirus this past March, we have continued to strengthen bilateral cooperation in terms of exchanging supplies to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and the R&D and production of vaccines and drugs. When the people of Taiwan saw footage of White House officials wearing Made in Taiwan masks, they were delighted to see that products made here were helping people in our partner countries.

As Secretary Azar has said, we look to continue collaborating on health issues to benefit the people of Taiwan, the United States, and the entire world. Since taking office, Secretary Azar has interacted with our Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) many times, but this is his first visit to Taiwan. I am sure that through on-site visits during this trip, the delegation will gain a better understanding of Taiwan's approach to containing the pandemic. This trip also gives us an opportunity to exchange views in person on issues of mutual concern, and work together to find a direction for future cooperation.

A few days ago, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo addressed Secretary Azar's visit to Taiwan, and said that the United States has wanted Taiwan to be part of the conversations at the World Health Assembly (WHA), but that China has prevented that from happening. For us, this situation is also quite regrettable.

Throughout this pandemic, Taiwan has demonstrated that we can not only establish a domestic line of defense, but can also assist other countries defend against the spread of COVID-19. I would like to emphasize once again that political considerations should not override the human right to health. The decision to exclude Taiwan from participating in the WHA violates the principle of the universal right to healthcare.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our many good friends in the United States including President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Pompeo, and HHS Secretary Azar. We are grateful for their continued recognition of the Taiwan Model's contribution to global pandemic control, and their strong support for Taiwan's international participation. We also look forward to making substantial progress on joint efforts to develop and produce vaccines and drugs.

I am sure that our joint efforts will lead to even more breakthroughs and greater achievements in disease prevention and exchanges in all areas. They will also deepen the global cooperative partnership between Taiwan and the United States, so that together, we can contribute to peace, stability, and development in the Indo-Pacific.

The following is a transcript of Secretary Azar's remarks:

It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from President Trump to Taiwan.

I would like to congratulate President Tsai on beginning her second term earlier this year. As Secretary Pompeo said in marking her inauguration in May, President Tsai's courage and vision in leading Taiwan's vibrant democracy are an inspiration to the region and to the world.

I also want to offer my condolences to everyone in Taiwan on the loss of your former President Lee Teng-hui, the father of Taiwan's democracy and one of the great leaders of the 20th century's movement toward democracy.

Under President Trump, the United States has expressed our admiration for Taiwan's democratic success in tangible ways. President Trump has signed legislation to strengthen the partnership between Taiwan and the United States, and in 2018, we opened a new American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), a brick-and-mortar commitment to our treasured friendship.

The particular focus of both my discussions with President Tsai and of our trip is highlighting Taiwan's success on health, in combating COVID-19, and cooperating with the United States to prevent, detect, and respond to health threats.

Taiwan's response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent, democratic nature of Taiwan's society and culture.

Taiwan had tremendous success in detecting COVID-19, managing the outbreak, and sharing this valuable information with other nations. Taiwan's success in health and industry has allowed it to extend a helping hand to others, sending needed supplies around the world, including to the United States and Pacific Island nations.

Again, I am grateful to President Tsai for welcoming us to Taiwan and I look forward to using this visit to convey our admiration for Taiwan and to learn about how our shared democratic values have driven success in health.

Also in attendance were US HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadle, AIT Chairman James Moriarty, and AIT Taipei Office Director William Brent Christensen.

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