EDITORIAL: China’s CPTPP offer needs an answer

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China’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has been met with skepticism.

Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao (王文濤) submitted an official membership application to CPTPP’s depositary state, New Zealand, and had a phone call with New Zealand Agriculture Minister Damien O ‘ Connor to discuss follow-up work, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced Thursday evening.

Beijing’s move is not surprising, given that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) told an APEC summit in November last year that China would “favorably consider joining” the pact. commercial. However, the tricky part of this decision is its timing after tensions between the United States and China escalate again.

On September 9, US President Joe Biden called Xi – their second phone conversation since Biden took office. The unsuccessful appeal was followed two days later by a Financial Times report titled “Washington Risks Beijing’s Anger over Proposal to Rename US Office to Taiwan.” On Wednesday, the United States, United Kingdom and Australia jointly announced the creation of an enhanced security partnership called AUKUS, which would allow Canberra to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

China’s CPTPP offer has been interpreted by commentators as a “symbolic” step to counter the creation of the security partnership, with many questioning the Communist regime’s willingness to reform its economy to meet trade pact standards. Beijing denies a link between the events.

“China’s bid to join the CPTPP is fraught with trade friction with Australia and territorial disputes with Vietnam,” a Nikkei Asia report said Thursday.

“It is extremely unlikely that China will actually be able to join the CPTPP. The deal by design includes high standards that go far beyond the removal of tariffs, including regulations guiding market access, labor rights and government procurement, ”an article from The Diplomat.

There are also concerns that even if China joins the pact, it could try to bend its rules to serve its own interests, another Nikkei Asia article said yesterday.

Despite reservations about China’s move, many Japanese media have called for caution, especially since the United States has shown no interest in joining the CPTPP after withdrawing from the CPTPP in 2017. agreement under then-US President Donald Trump.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a press conference on Thursday that “the president has made it clear that he will not be joining the [CP]The TPP as originally proposed, ”adding that the Biden administration is exploring options to forge stronger economic partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region.

His remarks suggest that the White House has yet to form a business strategy with Indo-Pacific partners, despite its calls for supply chain restructuring.

In Taipei, the government cannot simply wait for help from other countries.

Economic Affairs Minister Wang Mei-hua (王 子 花) said on Friday that the government is monitoring responses from CPTPP member states and continues to conduct informal consultations with member states before submitting a formal request.

Wang Mei-hua’s remarks sound like a foreign ministry statement in December last year that refuted a disinformation campaign claiming the government had not submitted a candidate.

Instead of playing the same old tune, the government should let voters know that it intends to remove barriers to a candidacy.

It is also time to resume the debate on whether Taiwan should lift the ban on certain food imports from Japan. As warm as the Taiwan-Japan relationship is, import bans could become an inevitable battleground amid the government’s hopes of making inroads in foreign trade.

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