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The U.S. will hold formal trade talks with the Taiwanese government this fall, President Biden’s administration announced Thursday.
The announcement triggered another round of threats and condemnations from the Chinese government, which warned that it will “safeguard its sovereignty.” China has long claimed Taiwan as its own territory, despite the island having its own government.
“China firmly opposes this,” Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Shu Jueting told reporters on Thursday.
Tensions have spiked in the region this year as U.S. lawmakers continue to visit Taiwan to show support. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was the highest-level U.S. official to visit the island since 1997 with Speaker Newt Gingrich.
China argues the visits are a violation of the U.S. One China Policy, which stipulates that the U.S. will not hold formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan and that the U.S. accepts that the government of mainland China is the rightful government of China.
Taiwan split from China after pro-democracy forces lost a civil war to the Chinese Communist Party in 1949. The island has been self-governed as a democracy ever since, but still has billions of dollars in trade ties with the mainland.
Taiwan also has extensive economic ties with the U.S., being a major producer of computer chips. Taiwan is the ninth-largest trading partner for the U.S., accounting for $90.6 billion in total goods trade annually.
China has escalated threats to seize the island by force in recent weeks. The Chinese military appeared to simulate an invasion of the island following Pelosi’s visit, with naval and air forces conducting live-fire drills surrounding Taiwan.
China renewed those drills this week after another group of lawmakers visited the island, led by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.
The five members of Congress included Markey, and Reps. John Garamendi, D-Calif; Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif.; Don Beyer, D-VA and Amata Radewagen, R-AS.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.