Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will lead a U.S. delegation to Taiwan in the coming days, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in an official statement. He will be the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the country since 1979.

During his stay, Azar has, among other protocol meetings, a planned meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. 

With this visit, the U.S. government seeks to strengthen the partnership between the United States and Taiwan, and in turn enhance cooperation between the two countries to combat the CCP Virus global pandemic.

The Trump administration has praised Taiwan’s handling of the virus since the beginning of the pandemic and has repeatedly cited it as an example to follow.

“The recent COVID-19 [CCP Virus] pandemic provided an opportunity for the international community to see why Taiwan’s pandemic-response model is worthy of emulation,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a May 26 press release. 

The visit by U.S. authorities is likely to create further friction between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which still claims that Taiwan is part of China. The CCP has sought to isolate Taiwan permanently and exclude it from key international forums and associations, including the World Health Organization.

Azar will meet with senior Taiwanese officials, epidemiology experts and medical researchers to increase technology exchange between the United States and Taiwan. Azar will also deliver what U.S. officials described as a historic speech, making the case for Taiwan’s inclusion in the international arena.

The CCP fought hard to keep Taiwan excluded from recent WHO meetings on the CCP Virus and is likely to see Azar’s trip as another provocative move by the Trump administration.

Taiwan was the first country to announce the existence of the virus, however the WHO omitted all information provided. It was also instrumental in fighting CCP propaganda by claiming that the regime was withholding information while exporting the virus to the entire world. 

“The United States condemns Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Assembly,”  Azar told the Washington Free Beacon. “At a time when the world continues to struggle with the pandemic, we need international organizations to deliver on their stated missions and to serve the interests of all member states—not to play politics while lives are at stake.”

Before departing for Taiwan, Azar, spared no praise and said in a press release that Taiwan was a model of transparency and cooperation in global health during the pandemic. He added, “I look forward to conveying President Trump’s support for Taiwan’s global health leadership and underscoring our shared belief that free and democratic societies are the best model for protecting and promoting health.”