Taipei has announced that the United States and Taiwan are set to sign a trade agreement, a move that is expected to increase tensions between Beijing and Washington over the island. The Office of Trade Negotiations in Taipei stated that the first set of agreements under “The US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade” would be signed in Washington, without providing further details.
The US has remained a crucial ally and arms supplier to Taiwan, despite shifting diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. The US is also Taiwan’s second-largest trade partner. However, Beijing is opposed to any indication of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and other governments, as it views the self-ruled island as its own territory.
Cabinet spokesman Alan Lin said, “The deal that will be signed tonight is not only very historic but also signals a new beginning.” He added that Taiwan would continue to work towards a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States to ensure the island’s economic security.
The new initiative aims to enhance trade by simplifying customs checks, improving regulatory procedures, and implementing anti-corruption measures between the US and Taiwan. The Taiwanese government has described the deal as “the most comprehensive” trade agreement signed with Washington since 1979.
In recent years, Beijing has increased threats and rhetoric against Taiwan, escalating military drills in the seas surrounding the island and working to sever its official ties with countries worldwide. This issue has prompted rare bipartisan agreement in the US, with politicians such as Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his Democratic predecessor Nancy Pelosi both meeting publicly with Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen.
Washington announced plans for the trade negotiations last August as a show of support when Beijing was conducting massive military drills in response to Pelosi’s visit to Taipei. China strongly opposes any diplomatic action that treats Taiwan as a sovereign nation and has become increasingly angered by visits from Western politicians. In April, Beijing carried out three days of military exercises simulating a blockade of the island in response to a meeting between McCarthy and Tsai in California, reports Bangkok Post.
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