Taiwan and Canada held “exploratory discussions” about ways to boost trade ties, in Taipei’s latest move to reduce its economic reliance on China.

Mary Ng, Canada’s minister for international trade, met with Taiwanese minister without portfolio John Deng about a deal to promote investment, according to an emailed statement from the Canadian government.

Ng “highlighted Taiwan is a key trade and investment partner as Canada broadens its trade links and deepens its economic partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region,” according to the statement dated Monday, which added that Taiwan is Canada’s sixth-largest trading partner in Asia.

The two officials agreed in their video meeting to continue strengthening supply chain resilience and explore more business opportunities, according to a statement from Taiwan.

Beijing criticized Ottawa over the talks, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin saying at a regular press briefing in Beijing that “the Canadian side should respect the one-China principle and handle relevant issues prudently.”

Democratically ruled Taiwan under President Tsai Ing-wen has been trying to gain broader international recognition while finding ways to diminish its dependence on China, the world’s No. 2 economy.

In September, Taiwan asked to join the Asia-Pacific’s biggest working trade deal, a move that China indicated it strongly opposes. Tsai has also been looking at ways to bolster trade and investment with Southeast Asia, India, Australia and New Zealand, especially as Taiwanese firms face punishment in China for their political ties.

Beijing has also asked to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, creating the possibility of a long and politicized application process, with the members divided between democracies and nations keen to remain in China’s good graces.

Beijing has been piling military, economic and diplomatic pressure on Tsai’s government in recent years. The People’s Liberation Army doubled the number of flights its warplanes made into Taiwan’s air-defense identification zone last year, and analysts expect more such forays in 2022.