Canada opens door for Taiwan’s accession to historic trade bloc . . .
Global Affairs Canada conducted public consultations from July 26 to August 25 on the benefits of admitting four new members into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP): South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. Global Affairs solicited views from both the public and vested stakeholders. Of these four economies, the discussion of the accession of Taiwan – Canada’s eleventh largest trading partner and fifth largest in Asia – to the CPTPP stands out as perhaps the most complex for Canada to consider as it is wrapped up in continuing tensions with China. China claims the self-governing island to be an integral part of China under its ‘One China, Two Systems’ banner.
Tensions with China a complicating factor . . .
In addition to the simmering crisis caused by the arrest of Huawei CFO, Meng Wanzhou, on a U.S. extradition request last December, Canada has been a vocal critic of China’s handling of the protests in Hong Kong. Canada and the EU released a joint statement on August 17 calling for broad-based and inclusive dialogue with all involved stakeholders, and also for the maintenance of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle and Hong Kong’s Basic Law. In response to the joint statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Canada “has made irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs repeatedly, and grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs.” Besides Canada’s official statements on the situation on Hong Kong, Canadian former diplomats, such as Colin Robertson, David Mulroney, Guy St. Jacques, and John Higginbotham, have also publicly called on the Canadian government to take a tougher stance against China.
The need for caution . . .
As the conflict with China continues, Canada needs to tread carefully when advocating for Taiwan’s accession to the CPTPP. Canada in the past has been cautious with the ‘One-China’ policy, always consulting with China when Taiwan has requested admission to international organizations such as the WTO and APEC. Taiwan’s possible accession to the CPTPP will need to be handled in a similar manner – and in collaboration with other CPTPP member states.
- Government of Canada: Public consultation: Future accession negotiations of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership
- The Globe and Mail: Canada should support Taiwan’s accession to the CPTPP – but not as a full member
- The Globe and Mail: Canada should engage with Taiwan and others given our China troubles