The Chinese government on Thursday accused Washington of jeopardizing peace after US envoys began trade talks with Taiwan aimed at deepening ties with Beijing’s claimed self-governing island democracy.
The talks that began on Wednesday focus on trade, regulation and other areas based on “shared values” as market-oriented economies, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative. He did not mention China, but the talks add to gestures that show US support for Taiwan amid threatening behavior from Beijing, which threatens to invade.
The trade talks “disturb peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said. He called on Washington to “stop negotiating agreements with Taiwan that have sovereign connotations and an official character”.
Taiwan and China separated in 1949 after a civil war that ended in victory for the mainland’s ruling Communist Party. They have multi-billion dollar trade and investment ties, but no official relations. Beijing says Taiwan has no right to conduct foreign relations.
The United States maintains diplomatic relations only with Beijing, but extensive informal ties with Taiwan. The U.S. government has pledged through federal law to ensure that the island has the means to defend itself.
Zhao accused Washington of fostering sentiment in Taiwan in favor of formally declaring independence, a step Beijing has previously said would be grounds for an invasion.
The trade initiative is “intended to develop concrete ways to deepen economic and trade relations” and “to advance mutual business priorities based on shared values”, said a statement from USTR office Katherine Tai.
Taiwan is the United States’ ninth-largest trading partner and a major manufacturing center for computer chips and other high-tech products.
US President Joe Biden said on May 23 during his visit to Tokyo that the United States would intervene militarily if China were to invade Taiwan. He said the United States’ commitment to helping the island defend itself was “even stronger” after Russia invaded Ukraine.
On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth met Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and voiced her support for the island during her second visit to Taiwan in a year.
On Monday, China sent 30 military planes to Taiwan in the latest in a series of flights aimed at intimidating the island’s democratically elected government. Taiwan’s defense ministry said it sent fighter jets and put air defense missile systems on alert.