The 21st Century Trade Initiative between Taiwan and U.S. and China’s reaction

The US government deliberately pushed forward negotiations with Taiwan’s procuratorate authorities on the so-called “21st Century Trade Initiative”, and signed that agreement, which has a commercial nature with political connotations, which seriously violates the “One China” principle and the Three Communiqués, shared by China and Washington, and contradicts the official US commitment to maintaining only informal relations with Taiwan. After the initial agreement of the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade is signed, negotiations will begin on cooperation in other, more complex areas of trade, including agriculture, digital trade, labor and environmental standards, state-owned enterprises, and non-market policies and practices between the two sides.

   The “US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade” agreement facilitates customs procedures between the two parties, and looks forward to putting in place anti-corruption measures.  After receiving the green light in the House of Representatives, it will be put to a vote in the Senate of the US Congress, where it is expected to be approved as well.  Therefore, the Chinese government accused Washington of violating the agreements on the status of Taiwan and demanded that the US government stop official contact with the elected government on the Taiwanese island.  The Chinese Foreign Ministry also strongly condemned the trade agreement between the United States of America and Taiwan, stressing that the trade agreement between Washington and Taiwan violates the “one China principle”. The Chinese also warned the United States of the need to stop any form of official exchanges with Taiwan and to refrain from sending false signals to the separatist forces calling for the independence of Taiwan. The Chinese were accused that, under the guise of trade cooperation, the so-called “Taiwanese initiative” is merely an American tool to steal Taiwan, with leaders of the ruling Communist Party in Beijing accusing the authorities of the Taiwanese Democratic Progressive Party of being driven by the Taiwanese separatist agenda in the face of Beijing.

  Accordingly, the pace and intensity of tensions escalated between China, the United States of America, and Taiwan on the other hand, and official statements issued by Beijing considered that the Cold War mentality is now renewing between Washington and China and greatly increasing security risks, against the backdrop of official meetings between officials of the Taiwanese and American countries, which angered Beijing, which warned that it would take firm and effective measures to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of any US interventions or Taiwanese separatist attempts.

 Of course, the signing of that US-Taiwanese trade agreement raises the ire of China, which does not accept that the United States of America establish any official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which enjoys self-rule, and China considers it part of its territory.  Knowing that officially, Washington and Taipei should not establish formal diplomatic relations, but they maintain informal relations through the “American Institute in Taiwan”. Beijing has expressed its dissatisfaction with any reference to diplomatic relations between Taiwan and other governments, because it considers the island an integral part of its territory. Here, the United States of America is trying to provoke the Beijing government, which has escalated threats and anti-Taiwan rhetoric in recent years, and has increased military exercises in the regional area around the Taiwanese island and the Taiwan Strait, as well as exerting pressure to cut off Taiwan’s official relations with many countries of the world.

Dr.Nadia Helmy
Dr.Nadia Helmy
Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Politics and Economics / Beni Suef University- Egypt. An Expert in Chinese Politics, Sino-Israeli relationships, and Asian affairs- Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)/ Lund University, Sweden- Director of the South and East Asia Studies Unit