US, Taiwan clinch 21st century trade pact deal
The US and China are still at odds over Taiwan, with Beijing claiming undisputed control over the island.
In an indication of the US' growing involvement in Taiwan, Washington and Taipei have reached an agreement on the first phase of the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade.
The US announced a $500 million military package to Taiwan, something that China has repeatedly warned against. Earlier reports have also revealed that the US has deployed some 200 military personnel on the island, claiming that they are commissioned to provide military training to the Taiwanese army.
Read more: China to fight resolutely 'Taiwan independence' in 2023
According to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, “This accomplishment represents an important step forward in strengthening the US-Taiwan economic relationship.” She went on to say that the agreement includes customs and border processes, regulatory standards, and small businesses.
According to Tai, the agreement will allow American businesses "to bring more products to Taiwan and Taiwanese customers, while creating more transparent and streamlined regulatory procedures that can facilitate investment and economic opportunities in both markets, particularly for small- and medium-sized enterprises."
She added that the preliminary agreement related to the US-Taiwan initiative on 21st Century Trade will be followed by negotiations on the more complicated trade areas like agriculture, digital trade, labor, and environmental standards, and non-market policies and practices.
Tai stressed that the US looks forward to "continuing these negotiations and finalizing a robust and high-standard trade agreement that tackles 21st-century economic challenges."
In turn, Taiwan's Office of Trade discussions hailed the deal as "historically significant," adding that Taiwan hoped to complete discussions on all outstanding matters by the end of the year.
China has not yet commented on the topic, but Beijing is anticipated to be outraged by the US-Taiwan plan, considering that the PRC has frequently urged Washington to halt any formal interactions with Taipei.
China warned on Wednesday of any form of separatist moves in Taiwan, warning that it will “resolutely smash" any attempt for independence by the island.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “continues to strengthen military training and preparations and will resolutely smash any form of Taiwanese independence secession, along with attempts at outside interference, and will resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese Defense Ministry Spokesperson Colonel Tan Kefei said in a press briefing on Wednesday.
Tan described the Taiwan issue as “the first insurmountable red line” in China’s relations with Washington. He called for the US to commit to its One China policy, which recognizes the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the sole legal government of China, including Taiwan.
Read more: War could disrupt nearly half of global trade: Taiwan FM