China on Thursday (Jun 2) said it “firmly opposes” trade talks between the United States and Taiwan after Taipei and Washington announced the launch of a new initiative to deepen economic ties.
Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory and tries to keep it isolated on the world stage, bristling at any attempt to treat the self-governing democracy as an independent nation.
“China always opposes any form of official exchanges between any country and the Taiwan region of China, including negotiating and signing any economic and trade agreements with sovereign connotations and an official nature,” commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said.
Washington is vying to bolster its influence in the region to counter Beijing and US President Joe Biden is coming under bipartisan pressure from US lawmakers to deepen ties with Taiwan.
The talks announced on Wednesday – the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade – come on the heels of a trade agreement announced last week between the United States and 12 Asian economies, which excluded Taiwan.
Like the earlier trade agreement, the discussions with Taiwan will not involve tariffs or market access – items that would require congressional approval, US officials said.
In a statement, the US Trade Representative said that “both sides will work at pace … to develop an ambitious roadmap for negotiations for reaching agreements with high-standard commitments and economically meaningful outcomes”.