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China Blasts US for Taiwan Visit       08/12 06:33


   BEIJING (AP) -- A Chinese official lashed out at U.S. Health and Human 
Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday for visiting Taiwan amid an ongoing 
pandemic back home, accusing him of putting politics ahead of the lives of the 
American people.

   The comments came a day after Azar accused China of failing to warn the rest 
of the world about the coronavirus.

   "He abandoned the millions of people who are struggling with illness and 
visited Taiwan instead to stage a political show," Foreign ministry 
spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a daily briefing. "We don't know how he has 
the confidence and courage to shamelessly criticize China's anti-epidemic 

   Speaking Tuesday in Taiwan, Azar said that China's ruling Communist Party 
"had the chance to warn the world and work with the world on battling the 

   "But they chose not to, and the costs of that choice mount higher every 
day," he said.

   The Trump administration has repeatedly accused China of withholding 
information from the World Health Organization and the international community 
as the virus began to take hold. China denies the charge, saying it 
communicated information as soon as it had it.

   Azar's trip to Taiwan angered China because it considers the self-governing 
island part of its territory. He is the highest-ranking official to visit since 
the U.S. cut formal diplomatic ties in 1979, switching recognition to Beijing 
as the government of China.

   On Wednesday, Azar visited a face mask factory and paid respect to the 
recently deceased former Taiwanese president, Lee Teng-hui, before leaving 

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