The following is the gist of an interview conducted by Kawakami Tamami with Matsuda Yasuhiro, a professor at the University of Tokyo Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies.
China’s concern that Taiwan will be allowed to join the TPP became more pressing when Taiwan applied for membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. This situation will give the current members an opportunity to use Taiwan’s application as leverage to urge China to make certain compromises.
China has seen TPP membership as an opportunity to expand its influence in international trade. It was hoping to change the pact to suit its needs and apparently expected other countries to make certain compromises so that China could join it.
However, if Taiwan’s application were accepted ahead of China’s, it would dim the prospects for China’s membership because the existing TPP members will be able to veto the acceptance of any applicant. Taiwan’s membership application will allow the existing members to pressure China to implement reforms and tone down its diplomatic and military policies in the same way as when when the World Trade Organization (WTO) admitted China and Taiwan in 2001.
Meanwhile, their applications could also encourage the United States to return to the TPP. Japan should use this opportunity strategically to lead efforts to curb China’s aggression while expanding the pact’s framework.