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US sets up trade talks with Taiwan, draws warnings from China

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HUALIEN, TAIWAN — The U.S. government has held trade talks with Taiwan in a sign of support for democracy on the island China claims to be its own, prompting Beijing to ‘defend its sovereignty’ on Thursday. He urged them to warn that they would take action accordingly.

The announcement of the trade talks comes after Beijing threatened Taiwan by firing missiles into the sea after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan this month.

The government of Chinese President Xi Jinping has criticized the upcoming talks as a violation of China’s stance that Taiwan has no right to have foreign relations. He warned Washington not to encourage the islands to try to perpetuate their de facto independence. Beijing says the measure will lead to war.

“China firmly opposes this,” said Commerce Ministry spokesman Shu Jueting. He called on Washington to “fully respect China’s core interests.”

Also on Thursday, Taiwan’s military conducted a drill with missiles and artillery that simulated responding to a Chinese missile attack.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war and have no official relationship, but are linked by billions of dollars in trade and investment. Although the island was never part of the People’s Republic of China, the ruling Communist Party has said it is obligated to integrate it with the mainland by force if necessary.

Kurt Campbell, President Joe Biden’s Indo-Pacific regional coordinator, said last week that trade talks would “deepen ties with Taiwan” but stressed that policy would remain unchanged. has no diplomatic ties with Taiwan, its trading partner, but maintains extensive informal ties.

The US Trade Representative’s (USTR) statement made no mention of tensions with Beijing, but said “formal negotiations” would advance trade and regulatory ties, requiring closer formal exchanges. rice field.

By allowing more exports to the United States, Taiwan may help slow China’s efforts to use Taiwan’s status as its largest trading partner for political leverage. Mainland China blocked imports of Taiwanese citrus and other foods in retaliation for Mr Pelosi’s Aug. 2 visit.

» READ MORE: More US lawmakers visit Taiwan, 12 days after Pelosi visit sparked angry reaction in China

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it would “greatly welcome” the trade talks and bring a “new page” to its relationship with the United States.

“Due to the recent escalation of the situation in the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. government will continue to take concrete actions to maintain security and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the statement said.

U.S.-China relations are at their lowest level in decades amid disputes over trade, security, technology, the Muslim minority and Beijing’s treatment of Hong Kong.

The US Trade Representative (USTR) representative said the negotiations would be under the auspices of the American Institute of Taiwan, an unofficial embassy in Washington.

“China always opposes any form of official exchange between any country and the Taiwan region of China,” said China’s spokesman, Mr. Xu. We will take all necessary measures to do so,” he said.

Washington has said it does not take any position on the status of China and Taiwan, but hopes their disputes can be resolved peacefully. The U.S. government is obligated by federal law to ensure that islands have means of self-defense.

“Even in the face of Beijing’s continued efforts to undermine and support Taiwan, we will continue to take calm and decisive steps to maintain peace and stability,” Campbell said in a conference call last Friday. said.

China accounts for more than double the exports of Taiwan’s second largest overseas market, the United States. The Taiwanese government says Taiwanese companies have invested about $200 billion in the mainland. According to Beijing, the 2020 census found that about 158,000 Taiwanese entrepreneurs, professionals and others live on the mainland.

China’s ban on imports of citrus fruits, fish and hundreds of other Taiwanese foods has hit rural communities seen as supporters of President Tsai Ing-wen, but the goods are sold to mainland Taiwan. accounts for less than 0.5% of exports to

The Chinese government has done nothing to affect the flow of processor chips from Taiwan needed by Chinese factories that assemble the world’s smartphones and consumer electronics. The island is the world’s largest supplier of chips.

A second group of US lawmakers, led by Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, arrived in Taiwan on Sunday to meet with Tsai. Beijing has announced a second round of military exercises after their arrival.

Taiwan, with a population of 23.6 million, responded by launching its own military exercises.

On Thursday, a drill at Hualien Air Force Base on the east coast simulated responding to a Chinese missile attack. A military official trained with a Taiwan-made Skybow 3 anti-aircraft missile and his 35 mm anti-aircraft gun, but did not fire it.

“We didn’t panic” when China started military exercises, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Chen Dehuan.

“Our normal practice is to wait 24 hours for a missile launch,” Chen said. “We were ready.”

The U.S. Trade Representative said the Taiwan-Taiwan talks would also address agriculture, labor, the environment, digital technology, the status of state-owned enterprises and “non-market policies.”

Washington and Beijing have been embroiled in a three-year tariff war over many of the same issues.

These include China’s support for state-owned enterprises that control many industries, and allegations that the Chinese government has stolen foreign technology and restricted access to various sectors in violation of its promises to open its markets. Includes complaints.

Then-President Donald Trump raised tariffs on Chinese goods in 2019. This was in response to complaints that China’s technology development tactics violated its free trade commitments and threatened U.S. industrial leadership. Biden has left most of the tariff hikes alone.