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COVID-19 may need been stamped out ‘simply’ if it emerged in Taiwan or US: Alex Azar

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TAIPEI: COVID-19 may need been stamped out “simply” had it emerged in Taiwan or the USA as an alternative of China, the US well being secretary stated on Tuesday (Aug 11) throughout a historic diplomatic journey to Taipei.

Alex Azar’s renewed criticism of China’s dealing with of the pandemic is more likely to additional stoke already fiery tensions between the USA and China, the place the illness first appeared late final yr.

The 2 powers are clashing over a variety of commerce, navy and safety points, in addition to the pandemic.

“The Chinese language Communist Social gathering had the prospect to warn the world and work with the world on battling the virus. However they selected to not, and the prices of that alternative mount larger daily,” Azar stated in a speech at a public well being faculty.

“I consider it’s no exaggeration to say that, if this virus had emerged in a spot like Taiwan or the USA, it may need been snuffled out simply,” he added.

“As a substitute, Beijing seems to have resisted data sharing, muzzling docs who spoke out and hobbling the world’s capacity to reply.”

US-China disputes graphics
(Graphic: AFP)

Azar’s three-day journey is billed because the highest-level go to from the USA because it switched diplomatic recognition from the island to China in 1979.

READ: US Cabinet member lauds Taiwan’s democracy during historic visit

Earlier Tuesday, he held a assembly with Taiwan’s Overseas Minister Joseph Wu, who stated Taiwan lives beneath the fixed menace of getting its freedoms taken away by China.

“Our life has grow to be more and more tough as China continues to stress Taiwan into accepting its political situations, situations that can flip Taiwan into the following Hong Kong,” Wu stated.

A crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong has gathered tempo since China imposed a sweeping safety regulation on the monetary hub in June, with opposition politicians disqualified and activists arrested.

That has prompted alarm in Taiwan – a self-ruled island of 23 million folks that Beijing claims as its personal territory and has vowed to sooner or later seize, by pressure if obligatory.

“FAMILIAR” THREATS

“The individuals of Taiwan are all too conversant in coping with threats, be it navy, diplomatic or the threats of epidemics,” Wu stated.

Beijing has ramped up diplomatic, navy and financial stress on Taiwan because the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, who received a second time period earlier this yr with a landslide.

She rejects Beijing’s stance that Taiwan is a part of “one China” and as an alternative views the island as “already unbiased”.

China has prompt Taiwan might be granted a model of the “one nation, two programs” mannequin it makes use of for Hong Kong, which supposedly ensures sure liberties and autonomy from the authoritarian mainland.

All mainstream political events in Taiwan have rejected the proposal.

And what little enthusiasm there was for the thought has all however evaporated as China cracks down on Hong Kong’s democracy motion.

On Monday, Taiwan stated China despatched fighter jets over a de facto border separating the 2 rivals within the Taiwan Strait shortly earlier than Azar met President Tsai.

Taiwan, which has fewer than 500 confirmed COVID-19 circumstances together with seven deaths, has been in a position to comprise the virus due to its democracy and transparency, Wu stated.

“In distinction to an authoritarian mannequin the place the authority is just too crippled to reveal truth, within the clear Taiwan Mannequin, we merely cannot afford to lie or conceal.”

READ: China stories 44 new COVID-19 circumstances in mainland

China has additionally managed to get its outbreak largely beneath management, with sweeping lockdowns and journey restrictions.

America has the very best demise toll on the planet, with greater than 160,000 fatalities. US President Donald Trump has been accused by critics of taking a more durable stance in direction of China to distract from his coronavirus response as he seeks re-election in November.

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