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The United States and Taiwan are holding talks on strengthening economic ties

WASHINGTON: The United States and Taiwan held talks on Friday on strengthening their economic relationship in the face of mounting pressure on the island from mainland China, which the Taiwan side hailed as a successful step forward.

The talks, under the auspices of the New Partnership for Economic Prosperity Dialogue, were held, in real and personal, led by the US side, Under Secretary of State Keith Crash, who angered China by visiting Taipei in September.

Taiwan’s Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Chen Chern Chi brought a delegation to Washington for discussions.

A statement issued by the Taiwan representative office in Washington said that the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding to establish “an institutional dialogue mechanism.”

“The two sides also discussed a wide range of issues including science and technology, supply chain restructuring, 5G networks, investment review, infrastructure, energy, global health security and women’s economic empowerment,” she added.

There was no immediate statement from the US side, but in announcing the dialogue this month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the talks would include efforts to ensure safe and secure supply chains and the security of 5G networks.

The dialogue, which independent Taiwan hopes will eventually lead to a free trade agreement, comes as part of increased US engagement with Taipei under the outgoing administration of US President Donald Trump, which angered Beijing.

China claims that democratically administering Taiwan is its own territory, and reacted with anger when US Health Secretary Alex Azar visited Taipei in August, followed by Crash in September, sending fighter jets near the island each time.

Azar was the most senior US official to visit Taiwan since Washington transferred official diplomatic recognition to the mainland in 1979 and Crash was the most senior State Department official to visit Taiwan during those four decades.

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