Taiwan's trade with China is far bigger than its trade with the US

Taiwan’s trade with China is far bigger than its trade with the US

Aerial photograph of shipping containers at the harbor in Keelung, Taiwan. Data show that Taiwan depends more on China for trade than it does on the US

Sam Yeh | Afp | Getty Images

BEIJING — Data show that Taiwan depends more on China for trade than it does on the US, even if US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threw her weight behind Taiwan this week in a high-profile visit.

Taiwan came under military and economic pressure from Beijing this week, after the democratically self-ruled island allowed the visit of Pelosi — the highest-ranking US official to set foot on Taiwan in 25 years.

The visit came despite warnings from China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory and maintains the island should have no right to conduct foreign relations. The US recognizes Beijing as the sole legal government of China, while maintaining unofficial relations with Taiwan.

Still, Taiwan’s business and economic ties with mainland China and Hong Kong have grown so large that the region is by far the island’s largest trading partner.

Many large Taiwanese companies in high-tech industries such the world’s biggest chipmaker — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., or TSMC. — operate factories in mainland China.

Last year, mainland China and Hong Kong accounted for 42% of Taiwan’s exports, while the US had a 15% share, according to official Taiwan data accessed through Wind Information.

In all, Taiwan exported $188.91 billion in goods to mainland China and Hong Kong in 2021. More than half were electronic parts, followed by optical equipment, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Finance.

Taiwan’s exports to Southeast Asia were even greater than those to the US — at $70.25 billion to the region, versus $65.7 billion to the US, the data showed.

As a source of Taiwan’s imports, mainland China and Hong Kong again ranked first with a 22% share. The US only had a 10% share, ranking behind Japan, Europe and Southeast Asia.

Growing trade with mainland China

In recent years, Taiwan has bought an increasing amount of products from mainland China, and vice versa.

Over the last five years, Taiwan’s imports from mainland China have surged by about 87% versus 44% growth in imports from the US

Taiwan’s exports to mainland China grew by 71% between 2016 and 2021. But exports to the US nearly doubled, growing by 97%.

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