Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will lead a U.S. delegation to Taiwan this week, becoming the highest-ranking Cabinet official to visit the island in four decades.
The department said Azar will make the trip "in the coming days."
Azar said the visit will highlight Taiwan's health leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Taiwan has been a model of transparency and cooperation in global health during the COVID-19 pandemic and long before it," he said in a statement. "I look forward to conveying President [Donald] Trump's support for Taiwan's global health leadership and underscoring our shared belief that free and democratic societies are the best model for protecting and promoting health."
The Trump administration said it expects the trip to "strengthen the U.S.-Taiwan partnership and enhance U.S-Taiwan cooperation" to fight the pandemic.
Taiwan, which calls itself the Republic of China, is one of several points of tension between Washington and Beijing, due to the "One China" policy in the United States that recognizes only mainland China.
China threatened sanctions last month for U.S. military contractor Lockheed Martin in connection with arms sales to Taiwan.
Azar will be the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan since 1979. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy visited the island in 2014, a trip that was strongly denounced by China.