The US and Taiwan kicked off two days of talks in New York on Tuesday aimed at reaching a new pact to deepen trade and economic cooperation despite strong objections from Beijing.
The initiative was first agreed on in June, and the planned talks were announced back in August. They are expected to focus on agriculture, digital trade, and removing barriers to trade.
The US hasn’t had formal relations with Taiwan since it severed them in 1979 as part of a deal to normalize with Beijing. China is against any official contacts between Washington and Taipei and has made its objections to the trade talks known.
“China is always against any country negotiating economic and trade agreements of sovereign implication or official nature with China’s Taiwan region,” Chinese embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu said, according to The Wall Street Journal. “We urge the US not to repeat its wrongdoing.”
The US delegation in the talks is being led by Terry McCartin, the assistant to the US trade representative. The negotiations are being held under the auspices of the US’s de facto embassy in Taiwan, known as the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), and Taipei’s de facto embassy in the US, known as the Taipei Economic Cultural Representative Office.
The talks follow a pattern of the US increasing ties with Taiwan as part of its effort to counter China. Congress is looking to significantly boost military support for the island with $10 billion in military aid that is included in the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act, but the bill hasn’t yet been finalized.
China has recently reaffirmed its position that it prefers “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan but won’t rule out the use of force. Foreign involvement in Taiwan is a sensitive issue for Beijing, and Chinese officials have made clear that more US support for Taiwan’s “independence forces” could lead to war in the region.