Taiwan flags risk if China joins pact first

Taiwan is worried a political roadblock from China may prevent it from joining a trans-Pacific trade pact.

The self-ruled island filed its application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP on Wednesday (September 22), a week after Beijing submitted its application.

Taiwan's chief trade negotiator John Deng said on Thursday (September 23) there could be potential problems ahead.

"China has continuously been limiting Taiwan's space for international activity, I everyone has observed this. Therefore, if China joins the agreement first, Taiwan's membership application will of course be quite at risk."

Taiwan has applied to join the CPTPPunder the name: the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.

It's the same name it uses for its membership in the World Trade Organization.

ButBeijing has always insisted Taiwan is part of its territory, rather than a separate country.

That's led to Taiwan being excluded from many international bodies.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Thursday hit back at Taiwan's bid to join the pact.

"We resolutely oppose any country's official exchanges with Taiwan, and resolutely oppose the Taiwan region's accession to any official agreements and organizations."

The CPTPP's precursor, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, was originally a 12-member agreement seen as an important economic counterweight to China's growing influence.

But it was thrown into limbo in early 2017, when then-U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew.

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