Sun, Nov 08, 2015 - Page 8 News List

TPP bid an opportunity to globalize the nation

By Paul Lin 林保華

Taiwan’s bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) offers an opportunity to globalize its economy and move away from excessive reliance on China.

As with any agreement, the TPP would offer both benefits and drawbacks, and so it is both an opportunity and a challenge, which comes with a price. The price should be paid to the nation’s friends rather than an ungrateful enemy who only wants to annex it.

The only concern of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government is how to step down safely, so it is not expected to take action on the nation’s TPP bid, as this would run counter to Ma’s pro-China policy.

Minister of Economic Affairs John Deng (鄧振中) made an inappropriate remark not too long ago, saying that Taiwan would only be able to enter the TPP if China did not oppose it, because China is the largest market of half of the member states, which, according to him, are likely to have their own concerns regarding the matter.

Since China still has not taken an official stance on Taiwan’s TPP bid, why did Deng speak on Beijing’s behalf? China’s opposition to Taiwan’s bid is to be expected, because Beijing does not want the nation to escape from its economic cage. China wants to join the TPP so that it can change the rules from the inside or cause trouble as it did in the UN and the WTO.

However, the TPP’s strict rules demand that member states follow universal values, which means that it is almost impossible for China to enter the partnership. It would not be able to join as a developing nation and enjoy the accompanying benefits as it did with the WTO.

Although the regulations did not specifically target China when the US launched the TPP talks in 2005, they are now seen as China’s nemesis. Since China wants to join the TPP to promote its “One Belt, One Road” strategy, it is unlikely to criticize the partnership or block Taiwan’s bid. The nation should seize this opportunity to focus its efforts instead of belittling itself and asking for Beijing’s approval.

China is the largest trade partner of eight of the 12 TPP members: Australia, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam (the remaining members are Brunei, Canada, Mexico and the US).

Would these nations oppose Taiwan’s bid due to Chinese pressure? Are they Beijing’s friends? What would be their reasons for opposing Taiwan’s entry to the TPP? If they oppose Taiwan’s bid simply because China says so, would they not in effect become China’s vassal states?

Deng said that TPP members would have their own concerns. However, they probably think like Taiwan and want to reduce their economic dependence on China. Since Beijing often relies on political economy, using economic means to achieve political goals, these nations could join Taiwan in opposing China.

Also, during Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) visits to the US and Japan, both governments showed a positive attitude toward the nation’s bid to join the trade bloc.

Is the combination of the US’ and Japan’s economic influence inferior to China’s? Is Taiwan only pushing for a passive TPP membership, incapable of persuading all member states?

The Chinese Communist Party claims that the Republic of China (ROC) perished long ago.

If ROC officials must follow China’s whim in the performance of their duties, that is evidence of the seriousness of the Ma administration’s maladies.

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