China demands US stop trade talks with Taiwan

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government on Thursday accused Washington of jeopardizing peace after U.S. envoys began trade talks with Taiwan aimed at deepening relations with the self-ruled island democracy claimed by Beijing.

Talks that started Wednesday cover trade, regulation and other areas based on “shared values” as market-oriented economies, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. It did not mention China but the talks add to gestures that show U.S. support for Taiwan amid menacing behavior by Beijing, which threatens to invade.

Trade dialogues “disrupt peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” said a foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian. He called on Washington to “stop negotiating agreements with Taiwan that have sovereign connotations and official nature.”

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war that ended with the ruling Communist Party’s victory on the mainland. They have multibillion-dollar trade and investment ties but no official relations. Beijing says Taiwan has no right to conduct foreign relations.

The United States has diplomatic relations only with Beijing but extensive informal ties with Taiwan. The U.S. government is committed by federal law to see that the island has the means to defend itself.

Zhao accused Washington of encouraging sentiment in Taiwan in favor of declaring formal independence, a step Beijing has said previously would be grounds for an invasion.

The trade initiative is “intended to develop concrete ways to deepen the economic and trade relationship” and “advance mutual trade priorities based on shared values,” said a statement by the office of USTR Katherine Tai.

Taiwan is the ninth-largest U.S. trading partner and an important manufacturing center for computer chips and other high-tech products.

President Joe Biden said May 23 while visiting Tokyo that the United States would intervene militarily if China were to invade Taiwan. He said the U.S. commitment to help the island defend itself was “even stronger” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and expressed support for the island during her second visit in a year to Taiwan.

On Monday, China sent 30 military aircraft toward Taiwan in the latest of a series of flights aimed at intimidating the island’s democratically elected government. Taiwan’s defense ministry said it sent up fighter planes and put air defense missile systems on alert.

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