Beijing reacts to ‘ambitious’ US plan for Taiwan

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China has denounced upcoming trade negotiations between the United States and Taiwan in no uncertain terms, urging the two sides to call off the plans after Washington set out “broad objectives” for future deals with the island.

Briefing reporters on Thursday, a spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Ma Xiaoguang, responded to an American statement on trade talks with Taipei issued earlier this week, insisting such negotiations would violate past US assurances on the matter. 

“We urge the US to abide by the one-China principle and the three Sino-US joint communiques with concrete actions. Attempts to play the ‘Taiwan card’ to prevent China’s reunification and national rejuvenation will not succeed,” Ma said, adding that Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party had “colluded with external forces, betrayed the interests of the people on the island, and sought political self-interest.”

The comments came less than 24 hours after the Office of the US Trade Representative released a document outlining an “ambitious roadmap” for the talks, which noted that meetings could begin as early as next fall.

“The United States and Taiwan… have set a robust agenda for negotiations,” the agency said, listing a number of areas that would be covered during the talks, including “trade facilitation, good regulatory practices, strong anti-corruption standards,” and “enhancing trade between our small and medium enterprises.”

“We plan to pursue an ambitious schedule for achieving high-standard commitments and meaningful outcomes,” the USTR added.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing have soared in recent weeks following multiple meetings among American and Taiwanese officials, including a high-profile visit by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. The trips have triggered unprecedented military exercises by Chinese forces in the air and waters surrounding the island, with the government even going as far as to state it was carrying out a “blockade” drill.

While China considers the island a part of its territory, Taiwan has been governed effectively autonomously since the Chinese Civil War in 1949, when the nationalist Kuomintang faction was defeated by communists on the mainland and was forced to flee. The local administration has continued to refer to the island as the “Republic of China” ever since, though it has been formally recognized by only a handful of foreign countries.

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