GT Voice: US politicians playing with fire when it comes to ‘Taiwan FTA’
Published: Mar 24, 2021 10:16 PM
Photo: GT

Photo: GT

With China-US ties strained, some US politicians are now seeking to make Taiwan an issue of contention, a well-practiced move for many in Washington. 

Twenty-three members of the US Congress on Tuesday sent a letter to US President Joe Biden, urging him to begin negotiations over a free trade agreement (FTA) with the island of Taiwan, according to media reports. 

This is not the first time for US politicians have chosen to make inappropriate moves over Taiwan-related questions, which is irresponsible for the long-term interests of the China-US relations. In fact, pushing for an FTA with the Taiwan region seems more like a political stunt that has more of geopolitical significance than real economic value. The US government and its politicians know clearly that any form of official exchanges and contacts with the Taiwan region, including the talks over an FTA, constitutes a flagrant provocation. And US business circles don't really want that consequence.

From an economic perspective, compared with the Chinese mainland, Taiwan is far less important to the US economy. The Taiwan region is the US' 13th largest goods export market in 2019, according to information from the Office of the US Trade Representative.

Meanwhile, compared with its trade ties with the US, the trade connection with the mainland is apparently more important for the Taiwan economy. In 2020, the island's exports to the mainland and Hong Kong hit a new high to reach $151.45 billion, a 14.6 percent increase year-on-year, accounting for 43.9 percent of the island's total exports last year.

In fact, Taiwan itself is well aware that the FTA push by some US politicians and the Taiwan separatist forces is nothing but an attempt by the US to use Taiwan as a bargaining chip against the mainland, which will only harm its relations with the mainland. 

What's even worse, there is conflict of interests between the US and the Taiwan island in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. For years, agricultural products are one of the main export goods from the US to the Taiwan region, and the island has always been highly concerned and vigilant about the impact of US agricultural imports on local farmers' incomes. 

The China-US relationship has entered a more complicated and delicate stage. For the global economy, it remains paramount for the world's two largest economies to maintain competitive cooperation and prevent bilateral rivalry from intensifying to confrontation. Their voices in defending China-US trade are clear and overwhelming. Washington needs to listen more to the voices of reason than to noise of inferior motives.