A US cabinet member heaped praise on Taiwan's democracy and its success in battling the coronavirus as he met the island's leader yesterday during a historic visit that China has slammed as a threat to peace.
Health Secretary Alex Azar is in Taipei for a three-day visit billed as the highest level visit from the United States since it switched diplomatic recognition from the island to China in 1979.
China insists Taiwan is its own territory and vows to one day seize it.
Yesterday, Azar met President Tsai Ing-wen, who advocates the island being recognised as a sovereign nation and is loathed by China's leaders.
"Taiwan's response to COVID-19 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 US for supporting its bid to be part of the World Health Organization (WHO), a body Beijing keeps the island frozen out of.
Soon after the meeting Taipei's defence ministry said Chinese fighter jets had made a brief incursion across the median line in the Taiwan Strait that the two sides have long treated as a boundary.
Chinese warplanes routinely fly into Taiwan's defence zone to put pressure on the island but crossings of the median line are much rarer because it is such a sensitive area.