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US, Taiwan seek ‘like-minded’ democracies in supply chain shift from China

TAIPEI (Reuters) – The United States and Taiwan said on Friday they were seeking “like-minded” democracies to join a shift in global supply chains during the coronavirus pandemic, as Washington looks to accelerate a move away from economic reliance on China.

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Brent Christensen speaks at a forum on supply chain restructuring in Taipei, Taiwan September 4, 2020. Central News Agency/Pool via REUTERS

The Trump administration is taking action on multiple fronts to rebalance U.S. economic ties with China, including executive orders aimed at ensuring domestic production of key products and using “Buy America” requirements and incentives to persuade U.S. firms to bolster domestic supply chains.

China has decried this as a politicised attempt at “de-coupling” the world’s two largest economies that will never succeed.

De facto U.S. ambassador in Taiwan Brent Christensen, speaking in front of his Japanese, European Union and Canadian counterparts, Taiwan’s foreign minister and the visiting Czech Senate speaker, said everyone in the room was connected by their shared values, like freedom of the press and religion.

“These are the shared values that will inform how we reinvent the supply chains of the future,” Christensen said.

“Helping economies, sectors and companies build out secure supply chains will require a coordinated effort from all of us.”

Taiwan has also been keen to encourage its companies home from China – which claims Taiwan as its own territory – or to move factories elsewhere.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu took an indirect swipe at China, saying the pandemic had caused counties to wonder what would happen if their key industries were controlled by “another country that does not honour the values of rule of law, freedom, democracy and transparency”.

“Going forward, we will work with like-minded partners to establish reciprocal industrial ties that lead to joint prosperity, instead of coercion, exploitation and expansionism,” Wu said.

“I see tremendous potential for closer cooperation between Taiwan and like minded democracies, from Europe, Asia and North America.”

To China’s anger, the Trump administration has stepped up its support for Taiwan, even though like most countries it does not maintain formal diplomatic ties with the island.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Kim Coghill

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