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Taiwan Tells Australia Pacific Pact Bid Will Benefit Both

Taipei is looking for allies to support its application to join the CPTPP – despite opposition from Beijing which has also applied to be a member

Taiwanese flags in a square ahead of the island's national day celebration in Taoyuan, Taiwan, last week. Photo: Reuters

 

Taiwan has asked Australia to back its bid to join the CPTPP pan-Pacific trade pact claiming their membership would boost technology trade flows and demand for Australian minerals. 

Support for Taipai’s application would also “send a strong message” to Australian businesses hit by China’s recent boycotts of Australian products, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office representative, Elliott Charng, told a parliament committee in Canberra on Tuesday. 

“Economic sanctions imposed on Australia by China reinforce the argument of engaging with Taiwan more closely and more deeply,” he told the committee. 

 

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Each member of the 11-nation CPTPP, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, has to approve new members and the committee will recommend Australia’s response. 

The regional trade group, formed in 2018, currently includes Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. It has received  applications from Britain, China and Taiwan to join.     

The bids by China and Taiwan in the past month have sparked tension, with Beijing opposing Taiwan’s application, and Taiwan accusing Beijing of bullying.

China is Australia’s largest trading partner, with exports reaching a record A$19.4 billion in the month of July on the back of iron ore demand. However, diplomatic relations have soured in recent years.

Australia was Taiwan’s third-largest source of agricultural goods, worth US$607 million last year, and the CPTPP would provide structure to do business and enhance cybersecurity cooperation, said Charng, who is Taiwan’s de facto ambassador in Australia.

 

China’s Stern Representations

“The opposition from China is not unexpected. China will use every way to avoid Taiwan participating in any international organisations,” he said.

China said on Monday it had lodged stern representations with Australia over “inappropriate” comments by former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who last week visited Taiwan, which is claimed by China, in a personal capacity, and met Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Abbott told reporters there on Friday that Taiwan met the criteria for joining the CPTPP, however “fear of upsetting China” could cause some members to object to Taiwan’s application, and urged countries to move beyond “rhetorical support” for Taiwan and provide practical support.

China has also lobbied the Australian parliament committee to help it join the CPTPP, describing the strength of Chinese trade with Australia and avoiding mention of billions of dollars in punitive sanctions imposed by Beijing.

 

  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara

 

Read more:

Taiwan Leader Says Island Will not bow to China

Taiwan Takes Legal Route To Protect Itself From ‘China Tech Theft’

 

Sean OMeara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.

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