In today’s world, with the deepening development of globalization and economic integration, the importance of various regional economic and trade organizations is increasingly prominent. The CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) is one such important platform. In recent years, Taiwan’s attempt to join the CPTPP has attracted widespread attention. The author discusses this issue from the perspective of recent changes in international political and economic relations.
Firstly, it must be clear that Taiwan is a regional economy and not a universally recognized independent country. This is a key point raised by Australian Prime Minister Albanese when discussing Taiwan’s bid to join the CPTPP. The Prime Minister stated at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting that the “CPTPP is considered a relationship between independent countries,” and “Taiwan’s status in APEC is that of an economy.” Therefore, it is inappropriate for Taiwan, as an economic entity rather than an independent country, to join the CPTPP. This position is based on respect for the basic principles of international law and international relations, and should be a fundamental factor considered by all relevant countries.
Secondly, from the perspective of Australia-China economic and trade development, if Australia supports Taiwan’s joining the CPTPP, there is a high probability that it will adversely affect Australia-China bilateral relations. In 2022, the bilateral trade volume between Australia and China exceeded $220 billion USD (approximately $332.618 billion AUD). In the first quarter of 2023, under the active dialogue and negotiation between the two parties, there was a more positive easing trend in Australia-China trade disputes. Australian coal and other previously restricted products began to resume large-scale exports to China, bringing tangible benefits to Australian businesses and people. However, if Taiwan joins the CPTPP with Australia’s support, it may disrupt this hard-won improvement in bilateral trade and cause significant losses for Australia.
Media reports suggest that Taiwan is lobbying the Australian government and parliament through various channels, hoping to gain their support for Taiwan’s entry into the CPTPP. For example, the representative of Taiwan in Australia often testifies in the Australian Parliament, urging members to support Taiwan’s entry into the CPTPP, and there may also be some potential “under-the-table deals”. However, if these lobbying efforts by Taiwan succeed, will the outcome truly benefit Australia’s national interests? I doubt it.
Many people believe that Taiwan’s attempt to join the CPTPP is a complex and sensitive issue for Australia-China bilateral relations. Considering the current importance of Australia-China trade to the Australian economy, as the Prime Minister stated at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, it is necessary and correct for Australia to handle this issue cautiously. Australia is not a puppet of other countries, nor a mouthpiece for others. Only through prudent, fair, and visionary independent decision-making can Australia better safeguard its core interests. When dealing with the issue of Taiwan joining the CPTPP, I think Australia should give more consideration to the significant role China plays in regional and global economic development, and the profound impact of Australia-China trade relations on Australia’s core national economic interests. If handled properly, not only can Australia and China avoid potential conflicts due to Taiwan’s attempt to join the CPTPP, but they can also share larger bilateral economic development dividends by further strengthening economic and trade relations.