A Taiwanese official has asked Australia to support its bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) pact, saying Taiwan can boost high-technology trade flows and demand for Australian minerals.
Support for Taiwan’s bid would also “send a strong message” to Australian businesses affected by China’s boycotts of Australian products, Representative to Australia Elliott Charng (常以立) yesterday told a parliamentary committee in Canberra.
“Economic sanctions imposed on Australia by China reinforce the argument of engaging with Taiwan more closely and more deeply,” he told the committee.
Photo courtesy of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Australia
Each member of the 11-nation CPTPP has to approve new members and the committee will recommend Australia’s response.
The regional trade group, formed in 2018, includes Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. It has received applications from Britain, Taiwan and China to join. The bids by Taiwan and China 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 (US$14.3 billion) in 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, Charng said.
“The opposition from China is not unexpected. China will use every way to avoid Taiwan participating in any international organizations,” he said.
China on Monday said it had lodged stern representations with Australia over “inappropriate” comments by former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott who last week visited Taiwan in a personal capacity and met Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
Abbott told reporters on Friday that Taiwan met the criteria for joining the CPTPP, but “fear of upsetting China” could cause some members to object to Taiwan’s application.
He 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.
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