Daily Management Review

China Formally Applied To Join Pacific Trade Pact CPTPP


China Formally Applied To Join Pacific Trade Pact CPTPP
Following a formal application by China, the second largest economy of the world, to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), its leading member Japan said that it would have to be determined if China met the "extremely high standards" of the CPTPP.
The Chinese Commerce Ministry said in a statement last week that China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao had filled the country’s application to join the free trade agreement through a letter to New Zealand's trade minister, Damien O'Connor.
There are currently 11 members of the CPTPP including Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan and New Zealand and the pact was formed in 2018. Prior to that the pact was known by the name of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and was viewed to be an important economic counterweight to China's regional influence.
Currently, Japan is the CPTPP's chair and it said it would hold consultation with the other member countries of the pact before responding to China's request of joining the pact. Japan however did not provide any signal of any timeline of responding to China’s application. 
"Japan believes that it's necessary to determine whether China, which submitted a request to join the TPP-11, is ready to meet its extremely high standards," Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters on Friday.
For former United States president Barrack Obama, the TPP was central to America’s strategic shift to Asia. However, his successor, Donald Trump, withdrew the United States from the pact in 2017.
Given that the United States was not a member of the CPTPP, it deferred to the pact, a spokesperson for the US State Department told the media when asked to comment on China's bid to join the trade pact. The spokesperson however added: "That said, we would expect that China’s non-market trade practices and China’s use of economic coercion against other countries would factor into CPTPP parties’ evaluation of China as a potential candidate for accession."
After the singing of the the 15-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership free trade agreement last year, gaining membership of the CPTPP is believed would be a major boost for China.
In the past, China had pushed to be included in the pact, and had argued that there was enormous potential for cooperation between the Chinese and Australian economies. Since then, however, the relations between the two countries have got worse.
The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia formed a new alliance dubbed AUKUS earlier this week which has been formed to provide Australia with the technology to deploy nuclear-powered submarines, the countries said. This move is viewed to be targeted at countering China's influence in the Pacific.
The application to join CPTPP was "completely unrelated" to AUKUS, said Zhao Lijian, China's foreign ministry spokesman, on Friday.
He said at a briefing in Beijing that the main aim of Beijing was to achieve greater regional integration while AUKUS countries were "promoting war and destruction".
Concerns about China's decision to application to join the CPTPP were expressed by Taiwan, which has also been trying to join the trade pact.
"China ... is far removed from the free, fair and highly transparent world of TPP, chances that it can join are close to zero," Taiwan’s State Minister of Finance Kenji Nakanishi said in a tweet. "This can be thought of as a move to prevent Taiwan from joining."