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US 'Looks Forward' to Trade Talks with Taiwan Despite China's Objection

FILE - Shipping containers are seen at the harbor in Keelung, Taiwan, Dec. 8, 2020.
FILE - Shipping containers are seen at the harbor in Keelung, Taiwan, Dec. 8, 2020.

The United States said it looks forward to this week's trade talks with Taiwan as the two economies continue to strengthen bilateral trade ties, despite China's objection.

After a five-year pause, the U.S. and Taiwan will resume talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) council meeting Wednesday.

"Taiwan is a leading democracy and major economy and a security partner," White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said Monday during a briefing. "And we will continue to strengthen our relationship across all areas, all the areas we cooperate, including on economic issues. We're committed to the importance of the U.S.- Taiwan trade and investment relationships."

In Beijing, Chinese officials voiced their opposition.

"China has all along opposed any U.S. attempt to elevate relations in essence or engage in official interactions with Taiwan in any form," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a recent briefing.

In a statement, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Taiwan will continue its close economic and trade relationship with the U.S., further "exploring cooperation in areas of mutual interest" through talks under TIFA.

Taiwan is the 10th-largest trading partner of the U.S., and the U.S. is Taiwan's second-largest trading partner.

The U.S. has maintained a robust cultural, commercial and unofficial relationship with Taiwan after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979.

"Our support for Taiwan is rock solid," Psaki said, adding the U.S. is concerned about China's "attempts to intimidate others" in the Indo-Pacific region.

"We've also been clear publicly and privately about our growing concerns about China's aggressions toward Taiwan. The P.R.C. has taken [an] increasingly [coercive] course of action to undercut democracy in Taiwan. We will continue to express our strong concerns to Beijing in that regard," she added.

In 1994, the U.S. and Taiwan signed TIFA, which served as a platform to advance bilateral trade and investment interests. Since then, 10 rounds of trade talks have taken place. It stalled after 2016 as the U.S. focused on trade talks with China.

VOA's Steve Herman contributed to this report.