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US, Taiwan agree on trade talks amid ‘growing China coercion’

#Taiwan #agree #trade #talks #growing #China #coercion

US, Taiwan agree on trade talks amid ‘growing China coercion’

Taipei (AFP) –

Catherine LAI, Jack MOORE

Taiwan and the United States on Thursday announced plans for early fall trade talks, as a senior US diplomat warned Beijing not to further pressure the self-governing democracy it claims as its own.

Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have risen to their highest level in years after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei, sparking an angry reaction from Beijing, which was launching its biggest military drills around the island.

The negotiations would cover a variety of areas, including agriculture, digital trade, regulatory practices and removing barriers to trade, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said in a statement.

The talks “will deepen our trade and investment ties, advance mutual trade priorities based on shared values, and foster innovation and inclusive economic growth for our workers and businesses,” said United States Deputy Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi.

Taiwan hailed the announcement of the talks, dubbed the US-Taiwan Initiative on Trade in the 21st Century, as an opportunity to deepen ties with Washington and other nations as it seeks greater recognition from the international community.

“We welcome this opportunity to deepen economic cooperation between our two freedom-loving countries while shaping a new model for trade cooperation in the Indo-Pacific,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a tweet.

Taipei’s Washington representative, Hsiao Bi-Khim, wrote, “We welcome this announcement and Taiwan is ready to go!”

The United States and Taiwan have longstanding trade and investment ties. Taiwan is also a key global supplier of some of the most advanced semiconductors used in everything from cell phones and laptops to cars and rockets.

But Taiwan’s by far largest trading partner remains China. Last year, 42 percent of Taiwan’s exports went to China and Hong Kong, compared with 15 percent for the United States.

China views Taiwan as its own territory, to be one day conquered, if necessary by force, and resists any perceived treatment as a sovereign nation-state.

Washington recognizes Beijing diplomatically towards Taipei but maintains de facto ties with Taiwan and supports the island’s right to decide its future.

– “Intimidate and Coerce” –

The United States has said its position on Taiwan remains unchanged, and has accused China of threatening peace across the Taiwan Strait and using Pelosi’s visit as a pretext for military exercises.

Its top envoy to East Asia said Thursday Beijing is likely to step up pressure on Taiwan in the coming months after the drills.

“While our policy hasn’t changed, Beijing’s growing compulsion has,” Daniel Kritenbrink, deputy foreign minister for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told reporters on a conference call.

“These actions are part of an increased pressure campaign … to intimidate and coerce Taiwan and undermine its resilience,” he said.

The envoy said Washington will respond to China’s aggression with “calm but firm steps” to keep the Taiwan Strait open and peaceful.

His comments come after a senior US naval commander said this week that Washington and its allies must contest China’s ballistic missile fire over Taiwan, which he called a “gorilla in space.”

China’s drills included launching multiple ballistic missiles into waters off Taiwan — some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes — in what was the first time China had taken such a move since the mid-1990s.

Taiwan has conducted its own drills to simulate defense against invasion and on Wednesday displayed its most advanced fighter jet in a rare nighttime demonstration after China circumnavigated the island.

“Faced with the threat posed by the recent military exercises by Chinese Communist forces, we have remained vigilant while adopting the concept of ‘battlefields anywhere and training anytime’… to ensure national security,” Taiwan’s air force said in a statement.

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