Update 1: Adds Japan reactions, updates headline
Beijing, Sep 17 (EFE).- China announced Friday it has officially requested to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, as Japan asked that their application be analyzed.
Through a statement published on its website, China’s Commerce Ministry said its Minister Wang Wentao formally requested the move Thursday to New Zealand counterpart Damien O’Connor, since Wellington is the commercial agreement’s depositary.
“The ministers of both countries spoke by teleconference to communicate about the follow-up work on China’s formal request,” the statement read.
On Nov. 20, during a summit of leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country would “actively” consider joining the group.
Japan asked Friday to “analyze in depth” if China meets the requirements to join the group.
“We must analyze in depth whether China is ready to meet the high regulatory standards of the [partnership,]” Japanese Government Spokesman Katsunobu Kato said when asked about the issue at a press conference. “We will consult with the other members as part of the new member approval process”.
Japanese Vice Premier and Finance Minister Taro Aso also questioned “if China is in a situation where it can join,” and referred to the regulations included in the pact on state-owned companies.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi went further by saying Japan “must respond from a strategic point of view,” and said the United Kingdom’s request approval process is currently underway, which also asked to join at the beginning of the year.
The CPTPP, which came into force in December 2018, comprises eleven countries – among them, the world’s third largest economy, Japan, as well as Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia and New Zealand – and accounts for about 13 percent of the world’s commerce.
The treaty is an updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, signed on Feb. 4, 2016, but was hampered over former United States President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw his country from the agreement in 2017.
The withdrawal was a target of Trump’s electoral campaign, during which he attacked international free trade agreements and insisted on the need to launch new negotiations to renew the partnerships.
Sources quoted Friday by the state-run Global Times newspaper said Beijing “aims to shore up China’s leadership in world trade, while increasing pressure on the United States, which until now has not joined the revised version of the [partnership]”.
The announcement of China’s application to be part of the partnership comes a day after Beijing accused the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom of “undermining stability and regional peace” after they signed the pact known as “AUKUS”.
The move aims to strengthen cooperation in advanced defense technologies, such as artificial intelligence, underwater and surveillance systems. EFE