BEIJING (AP) – Beijing on Wednesday said it would block Taiwan’s bid to join a Pacific Rim trade initiative, citing the island’s refusal to admit it is part of China as the reason.
The Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office said on Wednesday that Taiwan’s participation in regional trade cooperation was based on the “one-China principle.”
“We oppose the participation of the Taiwan region in any trade agreement of an official nature or the signing of trade agreements of an official nature,” spokesman Zhu Fenglian told reporters in a bi-weekly briefing.
China claims democratic-controlled Taiwan as its own territory, to be brought under its control by force if necessary. He refuses to recognize the island government and increasingly seeks to isolate the independence government of President Tsai Ing-wen.
Taiwan announced on September 23 that it had applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a week after China submitted its own membership application.
The 11-country CPTPP, which entered into force in 2018, includes agreements on market access, labor movement and government procurement. The other members include Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and New Zealand. The UK has also started negotiating membership after leaving the European Union.
The CPTPP was originally called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a group promoted by then-President Barack Obama. His successor, Donald Trump, stepped down in 2017. President Joe Biden did not join him.
China and Taiwan went their separate ways after the Communist Party took control of the mainland in 1949 amid a civil war. They have extensive trade and investment ties but no official ties, and China is using increasingly threatening language towards the island while exerting military, diplomatic and economic pressure against it.
Zhu’s comments follow earlier remarks by Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian that China was “strongly opposed to any official contact between Taiwan and other countries, as well as the accession of Taiwan to any agreement or organization of an official nature ”.
The Taiwanese government expected China to seek to block its membership. He says his status as a democracy and market economy should count in his favor.
“Taiwan and China follow different organizational systems. We are an integrated market economy, ”John Deng, a minister without portfolio, said at a press conference after last week’s announcement.
Taiwan applied to join the CPTPP using the name “Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu”. This is the name she used to join the World Trade Organization in 2002.
As it gained economic and political clout, China has adopted an increasingly rigid stance towards these organizations in recent years, especially when it comes to Taiwan.
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