The U.S. launched a new trade pact with Taiwan on Wednesday, hoping to forge closer economic ties with the island territory that China claims as its own, while blunting Beijing’s economic clout in the region.
Biden administration officials said the U.S.-Taiwan deal would boost bilateral digital and clean energy trade and that the two partners would open talks to further technology trade and investments.
In announcing the pact, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said economic relations between the U.S. and Taiwan were especially important because Taiwan is a leading supplier of advanced semiconductors needed in an array of consumer technology products. Senior administration officials said controls on the export of sensitive technologies would be addressed in talks between the U.S. and Taiwan.
“Taiwan is an incredibly important partner to us, especially as it relates to semiconductors,” Raimondo told reporters. “We look forward to continuing to deepen our economic ties with Taiwan, and we are in active conversations with Taiwan.”
The U.S.-Taiwan pact comes days after President Joe Biden announced a new economic cooperation agreement with a dozen Asia-Pacific countries during his trip to South Korea and Japan.
Taiwan was not invited to join the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework out of concerns from some countries that the country’s participation might anger China.
But a senior administration official said, “The Biden-Harris administration sees Taiwan as a leading democracy, a technological powerhouse and a key economic and security partner.”
The latest U.S.-Taiwan connection could further strain Washington-Beijing relations. In Asia last week, Biden said the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily if China were to attack the democratic, self-governed island, a statement seemingly at odds with the U.S.’s long-standing “one China” policy recognizing Taiwan as part of mainland China.
While the White House later said there was no change in U.S. policy, the U.S. does ship weaponry to Taiwan.
Biden’s comment drew a rebuke from China, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin saying that “no forces, the U.S. included, can hold back the Chinese people’s endeavor to reunify the nation.”