America prepares to support Taiwan against Chinese pressure
The topic of Washington-Taipei talks announced
Amid rising tensions with China, the US and Taiwan are set to hold formal talks to strengthen trade ties. Washington and Taipei are expected to begin negotiations later this year to reach “economically significant” agreements.
Photo: Global Look Press
The United States and Taiwan have agreed to launch formal trade talks to not only signal Washington's support for Taipei, but also ensure the resilience of the supply chain in the face of growing hostility from China.
The US Trade Representative announced that the two sides have “reached a consensus Negotiating Mandate” for the US-Taiwan Trade in the 21st Century Initiative, which was released in June.
According to The Guardian, the agenda of the official talks covers issues such as trade facilitation, agriculture, the fight against corruption and the removal of discriminatory barriers to trade. The first round of talks is expected to take place in the next few months.
The announcement of the upcoming talks comes amid high tensions in the region as China continues military exercises targeting Taiwan. Washington, despite the lack of official diplomatic relations with Taipei, sought to strengthen support for the island.
Kurt Campbell, President Joe Biden's Indo-Pacific coordinator, said last week that trade talks “will deepen our ties with Taiwan,” but stressed that Washington's policy in this area is not changing, according to The Associated Press. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, its ninth largest trading partner, but maintains extensive informal ties with the island.
Earlier this month, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) responded to a visit from U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to conduct live-fire exercises near Taiwan, including missile tests.
For their part, the Taiwanese military on Thursday conducted exercise using missiles and cannons, simulating a response to a Chinese missile attack.
The Chinese military crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait almost daily, which unofficially separates mainland China and Taiwan. Beijing also announced sanctions against senior Taiwanese officials, as well as an import ban and other economic restrictions on Taiwanese businesses.
During a press conference on Thursday morning, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Daniel Kritenbrink said that The trade talks will provide “an opportunity to help Taiwan strengthen its resilience and secure its supply chains.”
Taiwan produces most of the world's high-tech semiconductors, used in electronics from toys and phones to cars. Citing the products as an example, Kritenbrink said Taiwan is playing an “increasingly important role in the global economy” and cross-strait peace and stability are “critical.”
Beijing has done nothing that could would influence the flow of processor chips from Taiwan, which are needed by Chinese factories that assemble smartphones and consumer electronics around the world, according to the Associated Press.
Allowing Taiwan to export more to the United States could help dampen China's attempts to use its status as the island's biggest trading partner as political leverage. Beijing has blocked imports of Taiwanese citrus fruits and other food products in response to Pelosi's visit to Taipei.
Beijing recently began claiming the Taiwan Strait as its sovereign waters and warned the US not to transit through the Strait under a flag of freedom shipping. Chinese Ambassador to the US Qin Gang said on Tuesday that such operations would be viewed by Beijing as an “escalation” and support for what Beijing calls a “separatist” movement in Taiwan.
“The US will continue to fly, swim and work wherever it is permitted by international law,” commented Daniel Kritenbrink. “It would be deeply destabilizing and irresponsible for the PRC (People’s Republic of China) to attempt to take steps to control or limit the ability of the United States or other countries to pass through the strait, or… to threaten the ability of shipping and trade across the strait.”