Since April, the administration of US President Donald Trump has been ratcheting up its rhetoric and actions regarding China. This strategy is intended to deflect blame for its mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic at home. It is having the side effect of appearing to dismantle the policy of ‘engagement’ with China of the previous seven US administrations and the way they treated Taiwan.

Trump sent Alex Azar, his Secretary of Health and Human Services, to visit Taiwan earlier this August. Azar is the first senior-level official of the Trump administration to do so, and the first since 2014 when the then head of the Environmental Protection Agency visited the island on behalf of then president Barack Obama.

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This article was originally published the National Interest.