US resumes trade dialogue with Taiwan in defiance of China

Katherine Tai is the US Trade Representative. Photo EFE

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai had a virtual meeting with John Deng, a Taiwanese minister without a portfolio, on Thursday to discuss trade relations between Washington and Taipei, AFP confirmed. The initiative challenges China's warnings to the North American country about a territory that it claims as its own.

The US official stressed to the Taiwanese minister "the importance of the trade and investment relationship between the United States and Taiwan," according to a statement from her office.

Both pledged to reactivate the body in charge of bilateral trade dialogue, in the freezer since 2016. This meeting will take place "in the coming weeks," confirmed the Taiwanese office of economic and trade negotiations in a statement.

Tai also "expressed the persistent interest of the United States in working with Taiwan" on common priorities "within multilateral organizations."

The meeting comes after the head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, said on Monday that the United States was "soon" to establish "discussions with Taiwan" on "some type of framework agreement" on trade matters.

This prompted the claim of China, which considers Taiwan a rebel province and threatens to use force in the event of a formal proclamation of independence or external intervention.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian urged Washington to "stop any form of official exchanges with Taiwan."

The United States should "treat the Taiwan issue with caution and refrain from sending the wrong signals to the pro-independence forces" on the island, the Chinese official added.

This was the first high-level contact between Taiwan and the Joe Biden government, visibly determined to defy China's warnings.

Taiwan welcomed a "cordial and constructive" dialogue and noted its "important role in the international supply chain", currently under heavy pressure with the rebound of large economies emerging from the pandemic. He also indicated that it is "a trusted partner for the United States."

Feeding tensions

The United States and China remain locked in an open trade war that began in 2018 through punitive tariffs applied by former President Donald Trump.

Biden resumed that confrontation with Beijing and systematically denounced the Chinese "autocracy".

The Taiwanese representative in the United States was invited to the inauguration ceremony of the Democratic president in January, something that had not happened since Washington broke diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979 to recognize Beijing as the official representative of China.

The United States is Taiwan's main ally and its largest arms supplier.

In recent months, Washington has repeatedly warned China against any attempt to "forcibly" change the status quo in relation to Taipei.

"Taiwan must have the means to defend itself," Antony Blinken said Monday. "We continue to provide significant equipment to Taiwan for this purpose," he added.

In Washington, calls are multiplying for the government to publicly commit to militarily defend the island in the event of Chinese aggression.

The European tour that Biden maintains, seeks to unify criteria to slow down the global economic advance of China and possibly the Taiwan issue arises in these alliances with its partners.

 

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