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Taiwan: US holds trade talks

BEIJING –

The US government plans to negotiate with Taiwan for a wide-ranging trade pact to show support for democracy on the self-ruled island that China’s ruling Communist Party claims is part of. territory of this country.

Thursday’s announcement came after Beijing held military exercises that included firing missiles into the sea to threaten Taiwan following a visit this month by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Office of the US Trade Representative did not address tensions with Beijing but said “formal talks” aimed at strengthening trade and regulatory cooperation would entail closer formal interaction. .

President Joe Biden’s coordinator for the Indo-Pacific region, Kurt Campbell, told reporters last week that the trade talks would be part of an effort to “deepen the relationship.” our relationship with Taiwan”, although he said US policy has not changed.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war. The island has never been part of the People’s Republic of China, but the Communist Party says it has an obligation to unify politically with the mainland, by force if necessary.

The United States has no official relations with Taiwan but maintains extensive relations through its unofficial embassy, ​​the American Institute in Taiwan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government says official contacts with Taiwan such as Pelosi’s one-day visit on Aug. 2 could spur the island to try to maintain de facto independence for a long time. its decades old, a step that Beijing says will lead to war.

Washington says it does not take a position on the status of China and Taiwan but wants their dispute to be resolved peacefully. Under federal law, the U.S. government is obligated to see that the island has the means to defend itself.

“We will continue to take calm and resolute steps to maintain peace and stability in the face of Beijing’s continued efforts to undermine it and support Taiwan,” Campbell said. meeting last Friday.

A second group of US lawmakers led by Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, arrived in Taiwan on Sunday and met with President Tsai Ing-wen. Beijing announced a second round of military exercises after their arrival.

Beijing did not immediately respond to the announcement of trade talks.

The talks will also cover agriculture, labor, the environment, digital technology, the status of state-owned enterprises and “non-market policies,” the USTR said.

It did not say which officials would be involved but said the talks would be held under the auspices of the American Institute and Taiwan’s unofficial embassy, ​​the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Representative Office. North in the United States.

US-China relations are at their lowest point in decades amid disputes over security, technology, Beijing’s treatment of its Muslim minority and its persecution in Hong Kong.

They are locked in a three-year tariff war over disputes in many of the areas covered in Thursday’s announcement. These include China’s support of government companies that dominate many of its industries and complaints that Beijing steals foreign technology and hinders foreign competitors in some areas. areas that violate commitments on market opening.

U.S. President then Donald Trump raised tariffs on Chinese goods in 2019 in response to complaints about the country’s technology development tactics violating free trade commitments and threatening the role of China. American industrial leadership. President Joe Biden left most of the tariff increases in place.

Taiwan, with a population of 24 million, is the ninth largest trading partner of the United States and the tenth largest export market for the United States, according to the USTR. The US State Department describes it as an “important partner for the United States in the Indo-Pacific.”

Taiwan is a major global source of processor chips for smartphones, medical devices, automobiles and home appliances, as well as industrial components used by factories in China and China. other Asian countries.

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