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Tsai says Taiwan facing 'political problems' in CPTPP bid

China's spokesperson reasserts country’s opposition to Taiwan’s entry

President Tsai Ing-wen. (Office of the President photo)

President Tsai Ing-wen. (Office of the President photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said on Wednesday (Sept. 29) that the country will have to get past some "political problems" to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Taiwan has to work with "like-minded countries and current members" within the group since there are "indeed some political problems," Tsai said at a Central Standing Committee meeting of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The president is believed to have been referring to opposition from China, according to a CNA report.

Indeed, on the same day, the spokesperson of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, Chu Fenglian (朱鳳蓮) reaffirmed Beijing’s opposition to Taipei joining the CPTPP.

China opposes Taiwan joining any regional trade group and its participation in any bilateral trade agreement because "there is only one China, which Taiwan is an inalienable part of," Chu said.

Geographically focused on the Pacific Rim, the CPTPP is one of the world's largest free-trade groupings, currently boasting 11 member states. Unanimous approval by all members is required to admit new applicants to the group.

Taiwan submitted its application on Wednesday (Sept. 22), just six days after China.

Although some were taken aback by China’s bid to join the group, the move was meticulously planned by top Chinese leadership who were following a 300-day plan set last year, according to Nikkei. China hopes to join the group before Taiwan or before the U.S. lodges a bid to rejoin.

China's leaders timed the application to preempt Taiwan’s bid and coincide with the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, with the expectation that Washington would be too distracted to form a coherent response, per Nikkei.