The journey, scheduled “within the coming days,” would be the highest degree go to by any US Cupboard official to the island since 1979, when Washington broke official ties with Taiwan to ascertain diplomatic relations with Beijing, mentioned a press release from the US Well being and Human Providers (HHS) Division.The high-profile journey is more likely to worsen relations between Beijing-Washington, which have nosedived this 12 months to their lowest level in a long time. For years, tensions and rivalries have simmered between the world’s two largest economies over commerce, know-how and geopolitics, however the coronavirus pandemic has dealt an extra blow to their already strained ties.Throughout his go to, Azar will meet with senior Taiwan counterparts, Covid-19 responders and consultants on behalf of US President Donald Trump to debate the worldwide pandemic response, US-Taiwan partnership and the island’s position as a “dependable international provider of medical tools and important know-how,” in line with the assertion.”Taiwan has been a model of transparency and cooperation in international well being throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and lengthy earlier than it,” Azar mentioned in a press release. “I sit up for conveying President Trump’s help for Taiwan’s international well being management and underscoring our shared perception that free and democratic societies are the perfect model for safeguarding and selling well being,” he mentioned.Taiwan’s International Ministry mentioned the go to could be a “testomony to the stable mutual belief and clean communication between Taiwan and the US” and the “shut partnership the 2 nations share.”The US doesn’t preserve formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, nevertheless, it stays a agency backer of the island and its major arms provider. The final time a US Cupboard official had visited Taiwan was six years in the past, when Former President Barack Obama despatched Environmental Safety Company Administrator Gina McCarthy to the island in 2014. That go to prompted a fierce protest from Beijing, with its overseas ministry expressing “resolute opposition and robust dissatisfaction.” Rising tensionsTaiwan has emerged as one of many focal factors of the escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing. Final month, China mentioned it will place sanctions on US firm Lockheed Martin for its involvement in a significant US arms sale to Taiwan.Through the pandemic, US and Taiwan have additionally solid nearer ties within the space of public well being.In April, Azar spoke to his Taiwanese counterpart Chen Shih-chung about combating the coronavirus outbreak, thanking him for “Taiwan’s efforts to share their finest practices and sources with the US,” Azar mentioned on Twitter on the time.The US additionally led a diplomatic marketing campaign to revive Taiwan’s observer standing within the World Well being Meeting (WHA), an annual assembly of World Well being Group (WHO) members. Led by the US, a bunch of eight nations together with Japan, the UK and Australia, issued a joint letter calling for Taiwan’s inclusion within the WHA, a transfer that drew the ire of Beijing. Since Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen took workplace in 2016, Beijing has blocked the island from attending the WHA as a part of a wider push to isolate it on the worldwide stage, as cross-strait relations deteriorated. China’s ruling Communist Social gathering considers the self-ruled democracy as an integral a part of its territory to be taken by pressure if obligatory, regardless of having by no means managed Taiwan.Beijing blames Tsai’s the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Social gathering (DPP) for Taiwan’s exclusion from the WHA.”Since DPP took workplace in 2016, it has been insisting on the so-called ‘Taiwan Independence’ and refusing to acknowledge the truth that each the mainland and Taiwan belong to China,” Chinese language International Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian mentioned forward of the WHA assembly in May.”The aim of sure nations’ dialogue of Taiwan-related proposals is to noticeably intervene with the agenda of the WHA and undermine worldwide cooperation in combating the Covid-19 pandemic,” Zhao mentioned.Ultimately, Taiwan was once more excluded from this 12 months’s WHA, over which the US expressed its “deep disappointment.””It’s…vital that Taiwan take part as an observer on the WHA, to convey the useful perspective concerning their efficient and exemplary response,” Azar mentioned in an tackle on the WHA on May 18. “WHO barred Taiwan from participation in 2016 only a few months after Taiwan’s free and honest elections. The well being of 23 million Taiwanese individuals ought to by no means be sacrificed to ship a political message,” he mentioned.In its assertion Wednesday, Taiwan’s International Ministry referred to as Azar an “unwavering buddy of Taiwan” for his agency help of Taiwan’s inclusion within the WHO and associated occasions.