Taiwanese authorities say Taiwan hopes to join an 11-member Pacific free trade agreement as a long-term economic development strategy. But they say if China joins the pact first, it would pose a significant "risk" for Taiwan's membership.
Taiwan's minister in charge of trade negotiations, Deng Chen-chung, spoke with reporters on Thursday, one day after Taiwan formally applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP.
China said last week it had applied to join the CPTPP. The move is apparently intended to boost its influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
Under its one-China principle, Beijing is expected to strongly oppose Taiwan's bid.
Taiwan is excluded from many international organizations as Beijing maintains Taiwan is a part of China.
Deng said Taiwan's application has no connection with China's bid. He said there is a risk to Taiwan's application if China joins first, but stressed that Taiwan is more qualified to participate in the pact.
He said the CPTPP requires each member to be open and willing to abide by the rules of the deal.
Deng said Taiwan has a complete market economy, shares basic values of democracy and the rule of law, and respects private property. He added that everyone should know what the Chinese situation is like.
He also said CPTPP member nations account for more than 24 percent of Taiwan's total trade in value terms. He said Taiwan is aiming to join the pact for its own interest.
Joining the pact requires approval from all members. The rival bids from China and Taiwan may pose difficulty for the members, including Japan.