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In new show of support, US to hold trade talks with Taiwan

China and Taiwan split in 1949 after a civil war and have no official relations but are bound by billions of dollars of trade and investment. The island never has been part of the People's Republic of China, but the ruling Communist Party says it is obliged to unite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

In new show of support, US to hold trade talks with Taiwan AJR
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Taipei, First Published Aug 18, 2022, 5:31 PM IST

The United States is all set to hold talks with Taiwan on a wide-ranging trade treaty in a sign of support for the self-ruled island which China claims as its own territory. The announcement was made on Thursday after Beijing held military drills that included firing missiles into the sea to intimidate Taiwan following this month's visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Meanwhile, on Thursday Taiwan's military held a drill with missiles and cannon simulating a response to a Chinese missile attack.

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US President Joe Biden's coordinator for the Indo-Pacific region, Kurt Campbell, said that trade talks would "deepen our ties with Taiwan" but stressed policy wasn't changing. The US has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan, its ninth-largest trading partner, but maintains extensive informal ties.

The US Trade Representative's announcement made no mention of tension with Beijing. However, it said that "formal negotiations" would develop trade and regulatory ties, a step that would entail closer official interaction.

China and Taiwan split in 1949 after a civil war and have no official relations but are bound by billions of dollars of trade and investment. The island never has been part of the People's Republic of China, but the ruling Communist Party says it is obliged to unite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

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Being allowed to export more to the US, it would help Taiwan blunt China's efforts to use its status as the island's biggest trading partner as political leverage. The mainland blocked imports of Taiwanese citrus and other food in retaliation for Pelosi's August 2 visit.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping's government had no immediate reaction to the announcement. The US-Chinese relations are at their lowest level in decades amid disputes over trade, security, technology and Beijing's treatment of Muslim minorities and Hong Kong.

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The USTR said negotiations would be conducted under the auspices of Washington’s unofficial embassy, the American Institute in Taiwan.

China takes more than twice as much of Taiwan's exports as the US, its No. 2 foreign market. Taiwan's government says its companies have invested almost $200 billion in the mainland.

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