US, Taiwan hold talks on strengthening economic ties

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and Taiwan held talks on strengthening their economic ties on Friday amid mounting pressure on the island from China, which the Taiwanese side hailed as a successful step forward.

The talks, under the auspices of a New Dialogue on the Partnership for Economic Prosperity, were held virtually and in person, led on the US side by Under Secretary of State Keith Krach, who angered China with a visit in Taipei in September.

Taiwanese Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Chen Chern-chyi brought a delegation to Washington for the talks.

A statement from Taiwan’s representative office in Washington said the two sides had signed a memorandum of understanding to establish an “institutionalized dialogue mechanism.”

The two sides also discussed a wide range of issues, including science and technology, supply chain restructuring, 5G networks, investment review, infrastructure and energy, security global health and economic empowerment of women, ”he said.

The US State Department said the two had agreed to negotiate a science and technology deal to “advance joint understanding and collaboration on a wide range of science and technology topics.”

Future talks will help to strengthen their economic relations and “our common commitment to free markets, entrepreneurship and freedom,” he added.

The dialogue, which Taiwan hopes will ultimately lead to a free trade agreement, is part of increased US engagement with Taipei under the outgoing administration of US President Donald Trump, which angered Beijing .

China claims to democratically manage Taiwan as its own territory and reacted with fury when US Secretary of Health Alex Azar visited Taipei in August, followed by Crash in September, each sending fighter jets near from the island.

Azar was the highest U.S. official to visit Taiwan since Washington transferred official diplomatic recognition to the mainland in 1979, and Krach was the highest State Department official to visit in those four decades.

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