U.S.-Taiwan trade talks irk Beijing

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AFP) — Taiwan and the United States announced plans on Thursday for trade talks in the early autumn.

But Taiwan’s largest trading partner by far remains China, which bristled at the announcement and said it “firmly opposes this.”

The negotiations would cover a variety of areas, including agriculture, digital trade, regulatory practices and removing trade barriers, the Office of the US Trade Representative said in a statement.

The talks “will deepen our trade and investment relationship, advance mutual trade priorities based on shared values, and promote innovation and inclusive economic growth for our workers and businesses,” Deputy United States Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi said.

“We welcome this opportunity to deepen economic collaboration between our 2 freedom-loving countries while shaping a new model for trade cooperation in the Indo-Pacific,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a tweet.

Taipei’s representative in Washington Hsiao Bi-Khim wrote: “We welcome this announcement, and Taiwan’s ready to start!”

“China has always opposed any official exchanges between any country and the Taiwan region of China,” Beijing’s commerce ministry spokesperson Shu Jueting told reporters on Thursday, adding that the matter concerned China-US relations.

Beijing views Taiwan as its own territory to be seized one day, by force if necessary, and last year 42 percent of Taiwan’s exports went to China and Hong Kong compared with 15 percent for the US.

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