US to hold economic talks with Taiwan; China says, 'stop elevating ties with Taiwan'

Pompeo speaks during a briefing, on Nov 10, 2020, at the State Department in Washington.
Pompeo speaks during a briefing, on Nov 10, 2020, at the State Department in Washington.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US Undersecretary of State Keith Krach, who angered China with a visit to Taipei in September, will lead economic talks with Taiwan this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday (Nov 10).

Mr Pompeo told a news conference that Mr Krach would lead the Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue with Taiwan on Nov 20.

He said the talks would cover cooperation in a range of areas, including ensuring safe and secure supply chains and 5G security.

"The dialogue signifies that our economic relationship with Taiwan, a vibrant democracy and a reliable partner, is strong and growing," Mr Pompeo said.

Mr Pompeo did not say whether the talks would be held virtually or in person but noted that they would be under the auspices of the US representative office in Taipei and that of Taiwan in Washington.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday urged the US to stop elevating ties with Taiwan, said ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin at a daily news briefing in Beijing.

China considers democratically-ruled Taiwan its own territory with no right to formal relations with other countries.

China has been angered by greater US support for Taiwan, including two recent visits by top officials, Health Secretary Alex Azar in August, and Mr Krach in September.

Mr Krach was the most senior State Department official to visit Taiwan in four decades after being named to head a new bilateral economic dialogue with the island.

The United States, like most countries, has no official relations with Taiwan, which China claims as sovereign territory, but Washington is required under US law to provide Taipei with the means to defend itself.

China stepped up military drills around the island amid a sharp deterioration of US-China relations in the run-up to the Nov 3 US presidential election, which was won by President Donald Trump's Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Mr Biden is due to take office on Jan 20, but Mr Trump has yet to concede defeat.

Taiwan has long sought a free trade agreement with the United States, but Washington has complained about barriers to US imports.

In August, Taipei paved the way for an eventual deal by announcing an easing of restrictions on US pork and beef imports that is expected to take effect on Jan 1.