The Taiwanese air force detected and drove out CCP fighter planes that crossed the midline of the Taiwan Strait during U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar’s visit to the island.

According to a Reuters report, J-11 and J-10 planes from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) briefly crossed the “border” between China and Taiwan on Monday at 9 a.m., which was interpreted by Taipei as a military provocation by the CCP.

The planes were tracked by ground-based anti-aircraft missiles and were “driven out” by Taiwanese aircraft patrols, the air force said in a statement released by the Defense Ministry.

A senior Taiwanese official told Reuters that the CCP was obviously “targeting” Azar’s visit. He called the military maneuver a “very risky” move since CCP planes were in range of the island’s missiles.

A historic visit

Azar’s arrival in Taipei represents the most important diplomatic visit of the United States in the last 40 years, after Washington in 1979 was inclined to follow the “one China” position that Beijing imposes on the international community, since it considers Taiwan a rebel province.

Azar’s visit comes against the backdrop of a sharp deterioration in US-China relations on several fronts, including trade and technology. In fact, on several occasions the Trump administration has shown its support for the democratic island, for example by boosting arms sales to Taipei.

“It’s a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from President Trump to Taiwan,” Azar told Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen at the Presidential Office on Monday, Aug. 10.

Taiwan’s example

Azar’s visit seeks to strengthen economic and public health cooperation with Taiwan and support its international role in fighting the CCP Virus.

Taiwan’s early and effective efforts to combat the disease have kept the number of cases far below that of its neighbors, with 480 infections and seven deaths. Most cases have been imported.

In China, by contrast, it has come to light that authorities withheld information that could have been key to calming the spread of the pandemic around the world.

Even German intelligence revealed that Chinese dictator Xi Jinping himself personally called the director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in January to prevent him from declaring a global emergency for the CCP Virus.

That is why the White House has targeted both Beijing and the WHO for their complicity in the global spread of the virus, while praising the transparent measures that Taipei promoted in the face of the pandemic.

“Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 [the CCP Virus] 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,” Azar told Tsai.

Tsai thanked the Trump administration for its support, noting that Azar’s visit represented “a huge step forward in anti-pandemic collaborations” between the two countries.

The questionable role of the WHO

In July, President Trump decided to withdraw the United States from the WHO because of its complicity with the CCP in concealing information about the pandemic.

Likewise, the White House has insisted that the United Nations agency incorporate Taiwan into its decision-making body, the World Health Assembly (WHA), since the democratic island is not a member due to the objection of the CCP.

“I’d like to reiterate that political considerations should never take precedence over the rights to health. The decision to bar Taiwan from participating in the WHA is a violation of the universal rights to health,” said President Tsai.

According to Reuters, Azar later told reporters that, under Trump’s leadership, he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had tried to restore Taiwan’s status as an observer at the WHA.

“But the Chinese Communist Party and the World Health Organization have prevented that. This has been one of the major frustrations that the Trump administration has had with the World Health Organization and its inability to reform,” Azar said.