4th June 2023 – (Beijing) The United States and Taiwan signed a new trade deal on Thursday as tensions between Washington and Beijing continue to rise. The initiative undermines China’s sovereignty, ignoring China’s position on Taiwan and straining China-U.S. relations further.
The so-called “US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade” framework aims to strengthen economic ties between Washington and the Taiwan region. The first agreement under this framework was signed on Thursday morning U.S. time, according to Taiwan’s trade negotiation office. Sarah Bianchi, Deputy United States Trade Representative, attended the signing ceremony held near Washington.
The agreement covers measures to simplify customs procedures. However, Beijing has made clear it firmly opposes any form of official exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan, including trade agreements with implications of sovereignty.
The Ministry of Commerce spokesperson said China is strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposes the deal, as it disregards China’s repeated solemn representations. “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory,” the spokesperson noted. Any trade deal with implications of sovereignty seriously violates the one-China principle and three China-U.S. joint communiques, which form the political foundation for China-U.S. ties.
Beijing urges Washington to respect the one-China principle, handle economic relations with Taiwan prudently and cease all official U.S.-Taiwan exchanges. But instead of promoting innovation and economic growth for both sides, the deal further undermines the one-China principle, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said.
Some argue the agreement is only trade. However, the signing ceremony, attended by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi and Taiwan’s “trade minister,” demonstrated the political implications behind the scenes. The U.S. took another step to directly challenge China’s core interests.
The deal shows bipartisan consensus in Washington to counter China by playing the “Taiwan card.” China hawks see an opportunity to use Taiwan to contain Beijing.
The Foreign Ministry reiterated China’s consistent and clear stance: Foreign countries’ dealings with Taiwan should have no official nature or implication of Taiwan being a sovereign state. Mao urged the U.S. to honor its promise to maintain only unofficial ties with Taiwan and stop any form of official exchanges that send wrong signals to Taiwanese separatists.
However, considering the deteriorating China-U.S. relationship, there seems little chance of Washington changing course anytime soon. The accumulation of such moves breeds negative sentiments that damage bilateral ties.
The trade deal initiative defies Beijing’s repeated warnings and underscores the bipartisan China hardline in Washington. It highlights the worrying downward spiral in relations, with both sides losing concern for each other’s sensitivities. Playing the “Taiwan card” seems a top priority for some in the Biden administration.
China remains resolute in upholding its sovereignty and territorial integrity. We hope the U.S. will return to a rational and constructive path on the Taiwan question, avoid further damage to China-U.S. ties and create favourable conditions for bilateral cooperation. Only by properly handling differences can we achieve peaceful coexistence and mutual benefit. The future direction of China-U.S. relations matters to both peoples and the broader international community.