Taiwan Joining WTO Is Not a Precedent for CPTPP, China Says

Taiwan Joining WTO Is Not a Precedent for CPTPP, China Says

China indicated that Taiwan’s path to joining a regional trade deal is going to be difficult, with a government spokeswoman saying that the fact that it could join the World Trade Organization shouldn’t be seen as a precedent.

“Taiwan joining any regional economic cooperation must be based on the one-China principle. It is under such a principle that China’s Taiwan joined WTO with a proper arrangement,” China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Zhu Fenglian said Wednesday when asked about Taiwan’s recent application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“Taiwan’s joining the WTO as a Separate Customs Territory doesn’t constitute a precedent for Taiwan joining a regional free-trade pact or bilateral free-trade treaty,” she said at a regular briefing in Beijing.

Taiwan and China peacefully coexist as members of the same trade body as both are part of the World Trade Organization, although Taiwan is a member as “the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.” Eager to eliminate as many political barriers as possible, Taiwan’s government used the same designation in its application to join the CPTPP last week.

In response to questions about Taiwan’s application, New Zealand’s foreign ministry referred to the island as “Chinese Taipei,” another moniker used to avoid diplomatic problems.

That application, just days after Beijing submitted it’s own request, has presented the 11 member nations around the region with a difficult choice - admit one, both or neither? While some nations such as Japan openly support Taiwan’s application, if China doesn’t agree to Taiwan joining using a different name, the countries that support China’s application may refuse, likely meaning neither can join.

So far there’s no sign that China is willing to compromise on Taiwan’s application.

“There is only one China in the world, and the Taiwan region is an inalienable part of China’s territory,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said last week after Taiwan applied. “The one-China principle is a universally recognized norm governing international relations and the consensus of the international community.

“China firmly opposes all official interactions between Taiwan and any country, firmly rejects Taiwan’s accession to any agreement or organization of official nature. China’s position on this issue is clear.”

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