Taiwan’s trade with China is much larger than its trade with the United States

Aerial photograph of shipping containers at the Port of Keelung, Taiwan. Data shows Taiwan is more dependent on China for trade than the United States

sam yeh | AFP | Getty Images

BEIJING — Data shows Taiwan is more dependent on China for trade than the United States, even though U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed Taiwan this week during a high-profile visit.

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

The visit came despite warnings from China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory and maintains that the island should not have the right to conduct foreign relations. The United States recognizes Beijing as the sole legal government of China, while maintaining unofficial relations with Taiwan.

Yet Taiwan’s trade and economic ties with mainland China and Hong Kong have grown so much that the region is by far the island’s largest trading partner.

Many large Taiwanese companies in high-tech industries such as the world’s largest 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 United States held a 15% share, according to official Taiwan data available via Wind Information.

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

Taiwan’s exports to Southeast Asia were even larger than those to the United States – at $70.25 billion to the region, compared to $65.7 billion to the United States, according to data.

As a source of Taiwan’s imports, Mainland China and Hong Kong once again rank first with a 22% share. The United States had only a 10% share, ranking behind Japan, Europe and Southeast Asia.

Growth in trade with mainland China

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

Over the past five years, Taiwan’s imports from mainland China have jumped about 87% compared to a 44% growth in imports from the United States.

Taiwan’s exports to mainland China increased by 71% between 2016 and 2021. But exports to the United States almost doubled, increasing by 97%.

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