Trade between the United States and Taiwan has boomed over the past two years.

Taiwan is not currently one of the countries included in the proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity. | Getty

A top Taiwanese official said on Thursday that the biggest benefit from a proposed trade agreement with the United States would be to prop up Taiwan’s economy and democracy in the face of China’s attempts to isolate the country.

“If our economy can not be strong enough, then there’s only one place that we can go — China,” John Deng, Taiwan’s minister without portfolio, said in an interview. “More reliance on their market. More dependent.”

That’s a concern because Taiwan’s economy is heavily entwined with China, giving Beijing increased leverage in the ongoing fight between the two sides over whether Taiwan is a separate country. The island nation of nearly 24 million people lives under constant fear of a Chinese invasion that would squash its democracy and put it directly under Beijing’s control.

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