The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced Thursday that the US and Taiwan signed the first trade agreement under a new economic initiative that was launched last year.
The deal was signed in Washington by representatives of the US and Taiwan’s respective de facto embassies, the American Institute in Taiwan, and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States.
The agreement has angered China as Beijing opposes any official cooperation between the US and Taiwan. While the deal was signed by de facto embassies, it was negotiated by USTR officials and Taiwanese trade officials. The trade deal covers trade facilitation, regulatory practices, anticorruption efforts, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
“China strongly opposes official interaction of any form between China’s Taiwan region and countries that have diplomatic relations with China. That includes negotiating or signing any agreement of sovereign implication or official nature,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said before the deal was signed.
She added that the US should “stop official interaction of any form with Taiwan … and stop sending any wrong message to separatist forces seeking ‘Taiwan independence’ in the name of economy and trade.”
The US has been increasing military and diplomatic support for Taiwan in recent years, steps that Beijing views as a violation of Washington’s one-China policy. Also on Thursday, Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu issued a warning to the US and the Democratic Progressive Party, the independence-minded ruling party in Taipei.
According to a Chinese military spokesman, Li said China will “continue to strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and greatest efforts.” But he added Beijing will “never tolerate any attempt by the Democratic Progressive Party authorities to seek foreign support for Taiwanese independence, nor will we tolerate any attempt by external forces to use Taiwan to contain China. We will absolutely not promise to renounce the use of force.”