Taiwan officials say the island has applied to join a Pacific trade group made up of 11 countries
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – Taiwan has applied to join a trade group of 11 Pacific countries, Cabinet officials said Thursday, creating a potential clash with rival Beijing over the status of island democracy.
Taiwan’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership could be disrupted if China, which applied last week, is admitted first, said John Deng, a minister without portfolio.
The CPTPP, which entered into force in 2018, includes agreements on market access, labor movement and government procurement. Other members include Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Singapore and New Zealand.
The ruling Communist Party on the mainland claims Taiwan as part of its territory and asserts that its elected government does not have the right to conduct foreign relations.
“China has hampered Taiwan’s opportunities on the international stage,” Deng said at a press conference. “If China joins before Taiwan, it will endanger Taiwan’s candidacy. “
The CPTPP was 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.
China and Taiwan have been governed separately since the Communist Party took control of the mainland in 1949 following a civil war. They have extensive trade and investment ties, but no official ties.
Deng said Taiwan’s 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, ”he said. “We have democracy and the rule of law supporting us. Our laws are transparent to everyone.