Taiwan is seizing diplomatic momentum to speed up trade talks with a number of countries to expand its offshore links and push back at Beijing’s efforts to lower its international profile. The island has already entered trade talks with the United States and Japan and will soon start exploratory negotiations with Canada on an investment protection agreement with the hopes of eventually leading to a bilateral free trade pact. Taiwan’s foreign ministry confirmed on Tuesday that the island’s top trade negotiator John Deng agreed with Canadian International Trade Minister Mary Ng earlier in the day to start “exploratory discussions” on a foreign investment promotion and protection arrangement, or FIPA. “The ministry greatly welcomes … such discussions as it represents Taiwan and Canada moving a step forward in deepening their economic, trade and investment partnership,” said Douglas Hsu, the Taiwanese ministry’s North American affairs director. Hsu said that soon after Canada updated its FIPA model last year, Taiwan started pursuing exploratory talks, and in the virtual meeting on Tuesday, the two sides agreed to start negotiations for cooperation on supply chains, green energy, technology, innovation, education and indigenous affairs. “The ministry is working closely with the Cabinet’s Trade Negotiation Office and relevant departments in a bid to swiftly enter a FIPA with Canada,” Hsu said. The move is expected to rile Beijing, which signed a FIPA with Canada in late 2012. Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province that must be brought back to the mainland fold, by force if necessary. It has warned other countries against having official contacts with the island. The mainland Chinese authorities have suspended official exchanges with Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party was elected president in 2016 and refused to accept the one-China principle. They have ramped up pressure on Taiwan, including sending warplanes almost daily to intimidate the island and poaching eight of Taiwan’s allies to try to force Tsai to accept the principle. Last month, Nicaragua formally switched recognition to Beijing , leaving Taiwan with just 14 allies. The island has sought to expand its international presence by forging stronger links with other economies, angling for trade deals with what it views as like-minded partners amid growing anti-Beijing sentiment among democratic countries like the US. It resumed long-stalled working-level trade and investment framework agreement talks with the US in September, a development observers said was due mainly to deepening of US-Taiwan unofficial ties and souring US-China relation s. On Tuesday, Taiwan and Japan held a virtual economic and trade conference during which Japan called for greater cooperation with the island on semiconductors and supply chains. The two sides have held economic and trade talks annually even though they do not have official relations. Taiwan is also in talks with Lithuania for closer economic and trade cooperation after the Baltic station angered Beijing by allowing the island to open a de facto embassy in Vilnius. Though a member of the World Trade Organization, Taiwan has only entered free-trade pacts with two major economies, Singapore and New Zealand.