As China looms, US seeks Taiwan role at UN health assembly

The U.S. health secretary says the United States has an "excellent relationship with China," but insists rival Taiwan should be granted observer status at the U.N. health agency's biggest yearly gathering.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar spoke to reporters in Geneva on the sidelines of the start of the World Health Organization's annual assembly, which China's government has prevented Taiwan from attending. China claims sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan.

For years, China allowed Taiwan to send observers to the assembly, but has locked out its envoys in recent years amid tensions between China's Communist government and the government of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

"We support Taiwan having the type of status it had previously here at the World Health Assembly," Azar said.