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TAIPEI (REUTERS) – There is a “risk” to Taiwan’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) if China joins first, Taiwan’s chief trade negotiator John Deng said on Thursday (Sept 23).
Taiwan formally applied to join on Wednesday, less than a week after China, the world’s second largest economy.
Taiwan is excluded from many international bodies because of China’s insistence that it is part of “one-China” rather than a separate country.
Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province to be reunified, by force if necessary.
Mr Deng told reporters that China always tries to obstruct Taiwan’s participation internationally, but that there was no direct connection between China’s application last week and Taiwan’s.
He added that Taiwan, a major semiconductor producer, has applied to join under the name it uses in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) – the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.
Taiwan is a member of the WTO and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) grouping.
Mr Deng said he was not able to predict when Taiwan may be allowed to join the CPTPP.
The original 12-member agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was seen as an important economic counterweight to China’s growing influence.
But the TPP was thrown into limbo in early 2017 when then-US President Donald Trump withdrew.
The grouping, which was renamed the CPTPP, links Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.