The Canadian government will not offer any public support to the demands of the two Taiwan or China to join a trans-Pacific trade agreement, claiming that it is up to the 11-member pact to jointly decide on new admissions.
The People’s Republic of China created a dilemma for Western and Asian countries in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a trade deal signed in 2018, originally intended as a counterweight to Beijing’s influence. in Asia-Pacific. Region. Originally titled Trans-Pacific Partnership, then-US President Donald Trump withdrew his country, one of the main drivers of the deal, after taking office in 2017.
In applying to become a member of the CPTPP earlier this month, China edged out Taiwan, an autonomous island claimed by Beijing as part of its territory, which was preparing an application. Taiwan saw the membership as a way to counter China’s efforts to diplomatically isolate it. A few days after China announced its application for membership on September 16, Taiwan officially announced that it also wanted membership.
China is unlikely to win the membership, business analysts said Thursday, but its candidacy also ensures that Taiwan is unlikely to be accepted, as Western and Asian countries would be reluctant to admit Taipei while rejecting Beijing. “It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where Taiwan comes into play before China,” said Mark Warner, a trade lawyer who previously worked for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the government of China. Ontario.
Japan, which under then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was a staunch supporter of the trans-Pacific trade deal, publicly welcomed Taiwan’s bid on Thursday. According to Japan Kyodo News Service, Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu described Taiwan as an “extremely important partner of Japan” who shares core values such as the rule of law. He said CPTPP members should make sure Taiwan meets the necessary standards for membership, but his reaction was warmer than Japan’s response to China’s candidacy.
Earlier this month, after China announced its candidacy, Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said it would be necessary to determine whether the Chinese can meet the “extremely high standards” of the trade deal. .
Beijing’s icy response to US initiatives could lead to more confrontation
Canada must not be intimidated by pressure from China
Ottawa recently held formal public consultations with Canadians on expanding the CPTPP and the savings they could support by joining the compact. In a report, the Global Affairs Ministry said Taiwan ranked second behind Thailand as the most mentioned potential candidate in comments from businesses and Canadians.
But on Thursday, the Canadian government refused to support China or Taiwan. He said any admission would be a group decision of the members of the pact.
“All decisions are made by consensus, and any country that joins the CPTPP must adhere to and comply with the high-quality rules and ambitious market access commitments of the CPTPP,” said Lama Khodr, spokesperson for the ministry. of Global Affairs, in an e-post declaration.
Beijing has long tried to isolate Taiwan from the international community, including denying it the opportunity to participate in global bodies such as the regular assemblies of the World Health Organization. More Over the past 20 years, China has been successful in convincing countries that recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country to sever ties. In 2000, Taiwan maintained official diplomatic relations with 29 member states of the United Nations, as well as with the Holy See. Today the number has dropped to 15.
Analysts said China’s offer appears to be an attempt, at least in part, to drive a wedge between the United States and its allies.
“They made this request, I think, to stir up trouble, to put it mildly,” said Lawrence Herman, international trade expert at Herman & Associates and senior researcher at the CD Howe Institute.
Beijing asked to join the trade deal just a day after sharply criticizing a new defense pact, AUKUS, signed by the US, UK and Australia that will provide Canberra with submarine technology. nuclear and long-range missiles with the aim of equaling Chinese power in the Indo-Pacific region. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the alliance could “seriously undermine regional peace.”
China’s candidacy to join the CPTPP would also be complicated by the strong involvement of state-owned enterprises in its economy, as well as the rules of the renegotiated NAFTA, now called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which effectively gives in Washington a right of veto on trade agreements that Canada or Mexico sign with non-market economies, a category that would include China.
“This will give Americans a chance to say, ‘We really don’t want you to do this,’” Mr. Warner said.
The administration of US President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has said it could seize the opportunity to negotiate its entry into the CPTPP itself.
With files from Reuters
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