HHS Secretary Alex Azar Statement
on Meeting with Foreign Minister Wu
August 11, 2020
(As Prepared for Delivery)
Thank you, Minister Wu, for welcoming me to Taiwan and for the opportunity to meet with you today. It is an honor to be here to bring greetings from President Trump and to be here to recognize Taiwan’s health leadership.
The COVID-19 crisis has reminded us all that Taiwan has a great deal to be proud of on the world stage. You have been a model for the world in your COVID-19 response. Beyond that, you have come to the aid of your neighbors, including the Pacific island states, with donated supplies and direct technical assistance under the slogan Taiwan can help, Taiwan is helping.
The United States believes that Taiwan’s accomplishments should be recognized on the world stage, and that Taiwan should be able to share these lessons and its world-class expertise in international forums. I have made that point repeatedly at the World Health Organization, from which Taiwan has been excluded as an observer for the last four years.
I have been a witness to the harmful and counterproductive results of excluding Taiwan from these international settings. In the spring of 2018, for instance, the World Health Organization put out an urgent call for funding to respond to an Ebola outbreak in the western Democratic Republic of the Congo. Taiwan offered a million dollars for this important fight, but the political bullying over Taiwan’s status at WHO ended up making this donation impossible.
Especially during a pandemic, but at all times, international organizations should not be places to play politics.
They must be venues for constructive, open dialogue and cooperation. That spirit of openness is what has guided Taiwan’s response to the pandemic and the United States is proud to recognize that achievement. We will continue advocating for the contributions Taiwan can make to the world on important issues like health.
I look forward to discussing these issues and Taiwan’s global health leadership with Minister Wu today.