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China is an “arch criminal” intent on bullying Taiwan and has no right to oppose the island’s bid to join a pan-Pacific trade pact, Taiwan’s government says.
The salvo is the latest in an escalating war of words over Taipei and Beijing’s decision to apply to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Chinese-claimed Taiwan said on Wednesday it had formally applied to join the CPTPP, less than a week after China submitted its own application.
China’s Foreign Ministry said it opposed Taiwan “entering into any official treaty or organisation”.
On Thursday Taiwan said China sent 24 military aircraft into the island’s air defence zone, part of what Taipei says is an almost daily pattern of harassment.
In a statement, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said China had “no right to speak” about Taiwan’s bid.
“The Chinese government only wants to bully Taiwan in the international community, and is the arch criminal in increased hostility across the Taiwan Strait,” the statement said.
“This pattern of behaviour could only come from China.”
In a statement also issued late on Thursday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said China’s entry into the CPTPP would benefit the post-pandemic global economic recovery.
China opposes Taiwan using trade to push its “international space” or engage in independence activities, it added.
“We hope relevant countries appropriately handle Taiwan related matters and not give convenience or provide a platform for Taiwan independence activities,” it said.
The original 12-member agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was seen as an important economic counterweight to China’s growing influence in the region.
But the TPP was thrown into limbo in early 2017 when then-US president Donald Trump withdrew the United States.
The grouping, which was renamed the CPTPP, links Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Australian Associated Press