Sat | Jun 25, 2022

China demands end to US-Taiwan trade talks

Published:Friday | June 3, 2022 | 12:08 AM

In this image made from video, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian gestures during a media briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, April 6, in Beijing, China.
In this image made from video, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian gestures during a media briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, April 6, in Beijing, China.

China’s government on Thursday accused Washington of jeopardising peace after United States envoys began trade talks with Taiwan aimed at deepening relations with the self-ruled island democracy claimed by Beijing.

Talks that started on Wednesday cover trade, regulation and other areas based on “shared values” as market-oriented economies, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative. It did not mention China, but the talks add to gestures that show US support for Taiwan amid menacing behaviour by Beijing, which threatens to invade.

Trade dialogues “disrupt peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” said a foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian. He called on Washington to “stop negotiating agreements with Taiwan that have sovereign connotations and official nature”.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war that ended with the ruling Communist Party’s victory on the mainland. They have multibillion-dollar trade and investment ties, but no official relations. Beijing says Taiwan has no right to conduct foreign relations.

The United States has diplomatic relations only with Beijing, but extensive informal ties with Taiwan. The US government is committed by federal law to see that the island has the means to defend itself.

Zhao accused Washington of encouraging sentiment in Taiwan in favour of declaring formal independence, a step Beijing has said previously would be grounds for an invasion.

The trade initiative is “intended to develop concrete ways to deepen the economic and trade relationship” and “advance mutual trade priorities based on shared values,” said a statement by the office of USTR Katherine Tai.

Taiwan is the ninth-largest US trading partner and an important manufacturing centre for computer chips and other high-tech products.

US President Joe Biden said on May 23, while visiting Tokyo, that the United States would intervene militarily if China were to invade Taiwan. He said the US commitment to help the island defend itself was “even stronger” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Tuesday, US Senator Tammy Duckworth met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and expressed support for the island during her second visit in a year to Taiwan.

On Monday, China sent 30 military aircraft towards Taiwan in the latest of a series of flights aimed at intimidating the island’s democratically elected government. Taiwan’s defence ministry said it sent up fighter planes and put air defence missile systems on alert.

AP