In the wake of the tense military standoff with China sparked by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, the Biden administration will hold talks to discuss boosting trade ties with Taiwan. The announcement comes as increasing flows of delegations from the United States and its allies travel to Taipei.

Several planes fly in formation over the USS Ronald Reagan, a US Navy aircraft carrier [Credit: Kaila V. Peters/U.S. Navy]

The rapid expansion of official relations with Taiwan is undermining the one-China policy that virtually every country in the world adheres to as the basis for diplomatic relations with China. While de facto recognizing Beijing as the legitimate government of all of China, including Taiwan, various governments are following the United States in rolling back longstanding diplomatic protocols, undermining the one-China policy and increasing tensions with Beijing.

US-Taiwanese talks on a pact, known as the US-Taiwanese 21st Century Trade Initiative, first mooted in June, are expected to take place in the northern fall. Taiwan, as of last year, was the United States’ eighth largest trading partner, while the United States is Taiwan’s second largest trading partner after China.

A wide range of American companies rely heavily on Taiwan for semiconductor supplies. The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company produces more than half of the world’s computer chips and has a virtual monopoly – more than 90% – on manufacturing the most advanced semiconductors. Taiwan depends on American agricultural imports as well as the purchase of American military equipment.

The announcement made last Wednesday by the office of the U.S. Trade Representative said the talks will cover 11 trade areas, but will particularly focus on agriculture and digital industries. The U.S. Commerce Department is also preparing to hold talks, including on measures to secure semiconductor supply chains, underscoring the vital strategic importance of chip manufacturing in Taiwan.

The talks will take place under the auspices of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which functions as Washington’s de facto embassy in Taipei. Under the Trump administration, AIT moved to new premises in June 2018 on a 6.5-hectare site, more than double the size of the previous precinct, and has over 450 staff.

Shu Jueting, spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce, criticized the US-Taiwanese trade talks, saying China opposes any form of official exchanges with Taiwan, including “agreements with sovereign overtones or character.” official”. Beijing sees Taiwan as a renegade province that it will forcibly reunite if Taipei ever declares formal independence from China.

The pace of delegation arrivals in Taipei is accelerating. A third US group led by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb landed in Taiwan yesterday for trade talks, just three weeks after Pelosi’s visit and a week after a US congressional delegation led by Senator Ed Markey.

The FinancialTimes reported that a group of Japanese lawmakers led by Keiji Furuya of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party were due to arrive in Taipei today. Next week, a Lithuanian delegation is expected to be present when the country opens its representative office in Taipei, a move that has prompted economic retaliation from Beijing. Canadian parliamentarians and two German delegations plan to go there in October.

The US announcement of trade talks last week was clearly not a routine affair. Also in attendance was Daniel Kritenbrink, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, who welcomed what he called “an ambitious roadmap for trade negotiations” with Taiwan. At the same time, he said the United States would continue to “deepen our ties with Taiwan” and, in particular, support “Taiwan self-defense” and maintain “our own capability.”

In fact, the United States, under Trump and now Biden, has dramatically increased the sale of weapons to Taiwan, including offensive weapons. Moreover, under Biden, Washington is pursuing a strategy – as it has already done in provoking its proxy war with Russia – of inducing Beijing to attack Taiwan in a war aimed at weakening and destabilizing the Chinese regime.

Building on the war in Ukraine, the United States is pressuring Taiwan to pursue a “porcupine” military strategy, stockpiling weapons such as shoulder-launched anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles and attack drones, to inflict maximum damage on the Chinese forces. A the wall street journal A video from August 12 reported that Taiwan was considering expanding training in the use of these weapons, with President Tsai Ing-wen pictured holding a Taiwanese-made Kestrel anti-armour rocket. The United States also sells Taiwan the more sophisticated HIMARS mobile missile system which has a much greater range and has agreed to sell MQ-9 Reaper drones.

The flurry of diplomatic activity is taking place amid heightened military tensions in the narrow Taiwan Strait separating the island from the Chinese mainland. While the Chinese military canceled extensive live-fire exercises held immediately after Pelosi’s visit, it continues to mobilize its forces, with the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense reporting 17 Chinese aircraft and five Chinese ships operating around Taiwan. Saturday.

Last Thursday, the Taiwanese military held its own drills at Hualien Air Base on the country’s east coast to simulate a response to a Chinese missile attack, using Taiwanese-made Sky Bow 3 anti-aircraft missiles and a 35 millimeter anti-aircraft gun. Defense Ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang condemned the Chinese military drills, then added that they “give us the opportunity to train in combat readiness”.

Although not immediately related, China announced last week that it would send military forces to participate in Russia’s large-scale “Vostok” exercises from August 30 to September 5. Joint military exercises, which take place every four years, have in the past involved hundreds of thousands of troops. The other participating countries are India, Belarus, Mongolia and Tajikistan.

While Beijing has said China’s involvement is “irrelevant to the current international and regional situation,” the U.S.-NATO proxy war against Russia and Washington’s threatening confrontation with China are bringing closer the two countries. A year ago, Russia and China held joint military exercises in north-central China involving more than 10,000 troops. Last October, the two countries held joint naval exercises in the Sea of ​​Japan, then embarked on their first joint patrols in the Western Pacific.

The United States, which mobilized the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its battle group in waters off Taiwan during Pelosi’s visit, said it was preparing another provocation against China by sending a warship in the Taiwan Strait. Such an operation can only further aggravate tensions with China and increase the danger of an incident which becomes the starting point of a much larger and more dangerous conflict.