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China isn’t too happy about the State Department’s overtures to Taiwan. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently signaled that the United States could begin trading with the country in the near future.
“We are engaged in conversations with Taiwan, or soon will be – on some kind of framework agreement,” he said during a virtual hearing with members of Congress. While he did not give details, it seems clear that further exploration of trade with Taiwan is on the horizon.
“The latest effort would revive a dormant trade and investment framework, an arrangement that isn’t as comprehensive as the free-trade agreements that the U.S. has with Canada, Mexico, and other top economic partners,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington issued a stern warning to the State Department about considering such a move. He stated that the U.S. must “stop all forms of official exchanges and contacts with Taiwan, stop elevating its relationship with the Taiwan region in any substantive way.” The spokesman argued that the U.S. should continue to adhere to its agreements with China which require America to maintain “only formal ties as a condition for formal relations with China,” according to the Journal.
The Daily Caller noted:
The Biden administration has taken to strengthen its ties with a territory China claims as its own. Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Democratic Sen. Christopher Coons of Delaware, and Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska announced the U.S. would donate 750,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan while visiting the country.
Because the Chinese government does not consider Taiwan to be its own sovereign nation, it has historically pressured other countries to not establish formal relations with Taipei, including the U.S. Only 15 countries recognize Taiwan’s independence from China.
If the Biden administration chooses to reopen trade with Taiwan, it could exacerbate the already tense relationship between Washington and Beijing. Recently, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed two bills specifically designed to weaken China’s ability to conduct espionage operations in the state’s government and learning institutions.
Under Trump, America’s relationship with China became more antagonistic with a president that was willing to take a more pugnacious attitude towards the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Becoming more friendly with Taiwan is sure to anger the Chinese regime. Indeed, several U.S. senators rankled the CCP when it took a military aircraft to Taiwan to distribute 750,000 COVID-19 vaccinations.
Blinken’s announcement comes as Beijing is growing increasingly aggressive against Taiwan. The CCP is upping its military presence in the area, even going so far as to fly 25 aircraft into the country’s airspace in April.
After its successful crackdown on Hong Kong, it seems Beijing is becoming further emboldened. It has brazenly violated the human rights of the country’s citizens despite widespread protests. Some have speculated that Beijing would launch a full-on invasion of Taiwan to assert its dominance.
Will China’s protestations be enough to cow the Biden administration into complying? Or will it continue pushing forward with its effort to increase trade with Taiwan? Only time will tell.