Azar visit to Taiwan is fresh thorn in prickly US-China ties

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The visit by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to Taiwan comes against the backdrop of tensions between Washington and the island’s rival China over issues from the South China Sea to TikTok. Azar is the highest-level U.S. official to visit the self-governing island democracy since formal diplomatic relations were severed in 1979 in deference to China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary. The visit has brought protests from Beijing, but Taiwan is just one in a long list of issues involving politics, trade and culture that have China and the U.S. at loggerheads just months ahead of the American presidential election.