The Biden administration is opening trade talks with Taiwan, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken announcing on Monday that the administration is “engaged in conversations with Taiwan, or soon will be—on some kind of framework agreement.” Communist China isn’t happy about it.
According to a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, the United States must “stop all forms of official exchanges and contacts with Taiwan [and must] stop elevating its relationship with the Taiwan region in any substantive way.” Washington should stay true to its established agreements with Beijing, the spokesman said.
Blinken did not elaborate on the administration’s plans. A spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai emphasized that it’s important to improve U.S.-Taiwan relations, but that “[they] have no meetings to announce at this time.”
In 1994, the United States and Taiwan signed their first investment and trade framework agreement, but under this agreement, they’ve only met 10 times in 27 years, meaning the existing structure isn’t as comprehensive as the free-trade agreements between the United States, Mexico, Canada, and others. A successful revamping of the Taiwan framework would allow increased trade conversations with the country and could lay the groundwork even for a free-trade agreement.
The Biden administration’s attempt to bolster U.S.-Taiwan relations follows lower-level discussions sponsored by the State Department, as well as similar attempts by the Trump administration to increase engagement with the country. The Biden administration has already shared plans for vaccine distribution in there, and three U.S. senators visited Taiwan over the weekend to emphasize vaccine cooperation between the two countries.
As Washington improves its relations with Taiwan, which was a U.S. ally in the Cold War, it jeopardizes its already-volatile relations with Beijing. As The Wall Street Journal notes, the Chinese Communist Party “sees Taiwan as a breakaway province and vows to use military force if needed to annex the island.”
Last year, the United States imported $20 billion in computer and telecommunications equipment from the country, plus an additional $7 billion in chips alone. Taiwan is a significant provider of semiconductors to the United States and presents an opportunity for the U.S. to secure the supply chains of crucial technologies, while simultaneously improving Taiwan’s own economy and mitigating further U.S. reliance on Beijing.