TPP bid an opportunity to globalize the nation
By Paul Lin 林保華
Taipeitimes  2015.11.8

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


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.

By Paul Lin 林保華

Paul Lin is a political commentator.

Translated by Eddy Chang


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