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

Aerial view of shipping containers at the port in Keelung, Taiwan. Data shows that Taiwan is more dependent on China than the US for trade

Sam Yeh | Afp | Getty Images

BEIJING — Data shows that Taiwan is more dependent on China than the US for trade, even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threw her weight behind Taiwan this week during 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 says the island should have no right to conduct foreign relations. The US recognizes Beijing as China’s only legal government, while maintaining unofficial relations with Taiwan.

Still, Taiwan’s business and economic ties to mainland China and Hong Kong have grown to such an extent that the region is by far the island’s largest trading partner.

Many major Taiwanese companies in high-tech industries, such as the world’s largest chip maker – 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 Taiwanese data accessible through 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 Ministry of Finance.

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

As the source of Taiwan’s imports, mainland China and Hong Kong once again took the top spot with a share of 22%. The US only had a 10% share, behind Japan, Europe and Southeast Asia.

Growing trade with mainland China

Taiwan has been buying more and more products from mainland China in recent years and vice versa.

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

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

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