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Taiwan officially announces bid for TPP membership, China voices strong opposition

  • September 24, 2021
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All national dailies reported extensively on Taiwan’s official announcement on Thursday that it submitted its application to join the TPP on Wednesday. Taipei submitted its application less than a week after China announced its own bid for TPP membership.


Taiwan’s top trade negotiator John Deng said at a news conference on Thursday morning: “China has been obstructing Taiwan’s international presence. If China is admitted into the TPP ahead of us, it will definitely pose a risk to Taiwan’s entry into the trade bloc.”


Meanwhile, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters on Thursday that China strongly opposes Taiwan’s accession to any official agreement or organization. He added that the “One China” principle is a universally recognized norm governing international relations and the consensus of the international community, adding that China firmly opposes all official interactions with Taiwan.


Nikkei wrote that many of the current TPP members have not yet reacted to Taiwan’s bid. However, Foreign Minister Motegi said at an online news conference in the U.S. on Wednesday that Japan welcomes Taiwan’s application, adding: “Taiwan shares the fundamental values of freedom, democracy, basic human rights, and the rule of law with us and is an extremely important partner in view of our close economic relationship.” The paper wrote that this remark marked a sharp contrast with Motegi’s earlier comment on China’s application in which he did not use the word “welcome” and said it is necessary to ascertain whether China is ready to meet the high level of trade liberalization required under the TPP. The paper asserted that the TPP, which was originally established to deter China’s unilateral trade activities, is becoming a stage for competition between liberal countries and authoritarian nations following the bids by China and Taiwan and that Japan bears a heavy responsibility to maintain the group’s free trade spirit in the absence of the United States. The paper wrote that according to a briefing by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Motegi urged the United States to rejoin the TPP at a meeting with Secretary of State Blinken in New York.


Yomiuri and Asahi ran similar reports. Asahi quoted Taiwanese trade negotiator Deng as saying that Taipei took the fact that Japan is chairing the TPP this year into consideration in submitting its application at this juncture since Japan has friendly ties with Taiwan. The paper asserted that Japan holds the key to the discussions on Taiwan’s possible membership. The daily also quoted an unnamed ruling party official as saying Japan is hoping that discussions on the membership of the UK and Taiwan will prompt Washington to consider returning to the TPP.


Nikkei commentator Akita wrote that the function of the TPP in leading the establishment of fair and transparent trade rules could be undermined if the political conflict between China and Taiwan is brought into the regional trade partnership. He also wrote that the unity of the TPP must not be destroyed due to a split between its 11 members over the participation of China and Taiwan. Akita added that it is necessary for the TPP members to thoroughly discuss the issue and that Japan should urge the Biden administration and the U.S. Congress to consider rejoining the trade pact.

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