China officially applies to join CPTPP trade pact – Nikkei Asia

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BEIJING — China has formally moved to join a Pacific trade pact involving Japan, Australia, Malaysia and other regional economies, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said Thursday night.

Beijing seeks to join the the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), formerly called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao presented China’s application to New Zealand counterpart Damien O’Connor and discussed the upcoming process by telephone.

New Zealand acts as the depositary for the CPTPP, the government that handles various administrative tasks for the pact, such as requests to join. 

In a speech to the APEC summit via video in November 2020, Xi said China “will favorably consider” joining the CPTPP. But China’s bid faces trade friction with Australia and territorial disputes with Vietnam, another member.

Beijing’s application comes one day after the U.S., U.K. and Australia formed a new defense-focused grouping in the Indo-Pacific called AUKUS intended to counter China.

The CPTPP’s members also include Brunei, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Singapore.