China suspends tariff arrangements on 134 items under Taiwan trade deal

Decision follows China’s opposition to new Taiwanese leader Lai who took office in Taipei on May 20.
By Taejun Kang for RFA
2024.05.30
Taipei, Taiwan
China suspends tariff arrangements on 134 items under Taiwan trade deal Chinese and Taiwanese flags are seen through broken glass in this illustration taken, April 11, 2023.
Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo/Reuters

China announced on Friday a suspension of some preferential tariff arrangements from next month under its only trade pact with Taiwan, accusing the island of “discriminatory” restrictions on Chinese products.

The decision would affect 134 items under the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, or ECFA, from June 15, the Customs Tariff Commission, which is under the State Council, said in a statement.

Base oils, lithium-ion batteries, racing bikes, television cameras, certain woven fabrics and various machine tools are among the 134 items.

The ECFA, which was signed in 2010, includes 806 items approved for tariff reductions and agreements to move forward on further trade liberalization.

“Taiwan authorities failed to take any actions to remove its trade restrictions [on mainland Chinese products],” said the commission. “Taiwan’s unilateral adoption of discriminatory restrictions and prohibitions on the export of mainland products violates the provisions in the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement.”

China said last year that its eight-month investigation had found that Taiwan was blocking 2,509 mainland Chinese mineral, agricultural and textile goods from reaching the island. The investigation covered some items in the trade deal.

Letter of protest

Also on Friday, Japan’s Sankei Shimbun daily reported that the Chinese Consul General in Osaka had sent a letter of protest to Japanese lawmakers who traveled to Taiwan to attend the inauguration of Taiwanese President William Lai Ching-te on May 20.

The Chinese Consul General in Osaka, Xue Jian, sent the letters to some members of the Japan-Taiwan Diet Members’ Consultative Council, a bipartisan group of pro-Taiwanese lawmakers, on May 24, protesting against their attendance at the inauguration.

More than 30 Japanese lawmakers attended Lai’s ceremony in Taipei.

In the letter, seen by Sankei, Xue called the inauguration “a very wrong political signal to support the ‘Taiwan independence’ divisive forces,” and criticized Lai as “an inflexible and stubborn molecule who speaks ‘Taiwan independence’ in a very vicious way.”

“The Taiwan issue is a red line that must not be crossed as it is at the core of China’s core interests,” Xue said in the letter. “The political foundation of Sino-Japanese relations and the basic trust between the two countries are at stake.”

“We strongly hope that you will safeguard the grand scheme of Sino-Japanese relations through your actual actions by not having any contact with Taiwan,” he added.

Yuichiro Wada, a lawmaker from the Nippon Ishin no Kai who received the letter, told Sankei that it was a “very intimidating threat and a way of thinking that ignores the will of the people of Taiwan.” 

“If China’s claims are true, tensions in the Taiwan Strait will escalate even further,” Wada said, adding that “Japanese lawmakers should work with Taiwan more firmly.”

China has made clear its opposition to new Taiwanese leader Lai.

Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office accused him of sending “dangerous signals” that hampered peace and stability.

China sees Lai as an advocate for Taiwan’s independence, and last week held two days of military drills in waters near the island. Lai has said he wants to maintain the status quo between the island and the mainland.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province that should be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary. Since separating from mainland China in 1949, Taiwan has been self-governing.

Edited by Mike Firn.




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