Taiwan asks to join trade group, says China could interfere

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TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – Taiwan announced Thursday that it has applied to join a trade group of 11 Pacific countries, creating a potential clash with rival Beijing over the status of island democracy.

The Chinese government, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory, has not given any details on how it might respond, but said the island has no right to join international bodies.

A Taiwanese cabinet minister said the island’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership could be halted if China, which applied last week, is admitted first.

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.

“China has hampered Taiwan’s opportunities on the international stage,” John Deng, a minister without portfolio, 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.

“The Taiwan region is an inalienable part of China,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. “We strongly oppose any official contact between Taiwan and other countries, as well as Taiwan’s accession to any official agreement or organization.”

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.


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