The US and Taiwan have announced a new initiative in 21st century trade, which they both said would help boost the economies of the two countries. However, China strongly opposed this move, warning that it would send the wrong message to Taiwanese separatists. The two sides also kept Taiwan out of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a free trade zone aimed at countering the growing influence of Beijing in Asia.
In late May, Biden announced that the US and its partners would begin discussions on a regional economic framework. However, he was careful not to include Taiwan in the first round of negotiations, citing concerns about its lack of strategic importance. In the US, the United States has repeatedly rejected the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other free trade agreements that would help develop Asian economies.
In the days prior to Biden’s meeting with Xi, the White House clarified that the president was not signaling any change in US policy toward Taiwan. Some analysts viewed the comments as a blunder, saying the U.S. still stands by its position on the Taiwanese territory. Biden did, however, say that the US would train Taiwanese forces. In fact, Biden told a reporter in Tokyo that the U.S. was committed to maintaining peace and stability on Taiwan.
The U.S. has repeatedly urged Taiwan to join the United Nations’ free trade system. However, recent tensions with Russia have exacerbated the situation. Beijing has repeatedly accused Washington of “hybridizing Taiwan” to sell its military and economic interests. Moreover, a “China threat” narrative has been rife for years in the Asia-Pacific region.
Nevertheless, Beijing and Washington may not be willing to include Taiwan in the initial round of economic talks. But this doesn’t mean that the U.S. is avoiding Taiwan altogether. In fact, it is likely to give Taiwan a lot of advanced weapons, including high-mobility artillery rocket systems and armed drones. It’s just a matter of time.
Xi and Biden will meet next week. The last meeting between the two was in November, and Xi referred to him as an “old friend” during the Obama administration. The meeting came after a week of heated rhetoric. In addition to Biden and Xi, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with Politburo member Yang Jiechi in Rome. The seven-hour session reflected the gravity of the situation.
Donilon’s work at BlackRock could also be a conflict of interest. He advises the State Department on strategic competition with Beijing, and he also served on the Investment Institute. Donilon’s work at BlackRock could lead to a conflict of interest, as the Institute has advocated that Americans double their investments in Chinese companies.
The board meeting will likely focus on issues ranging from tariffs to human rights and the Chinese military’s activities in the South China Sea and Pacific. Taiwan is expected to not be included in Biden’s initial talks with Asian nations in May. This is a good thing, as it can help both sides work toward a more peaceful and prosperous future.