China has officially sought to join the 11 member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). It is also agitating against Taiwan’s inclusion in the pact.
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Australia representative Elliott Charng told a parliamentary inquiry in Canberra last month that Taiwan’s membership of the CPTPP would be of mutual benefit, and requested Australia’s support to enter the pact.
Charng said Australia was already Taiwan’s third-largest source of wheat, barley, beef and meat products and admission to the trade pact would further strengthen trade.
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This prompted China to lodged stern representations with Australia over “inappropriate” comments by former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott in a speech in Taiwan, whereby Abbott warned that “fear of upsetting China” could see Taiwan excluded from the trade deal.
Enter New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who yesterday threw a spanner in the works of the ANZUS alliance by supporting China’s entry into the CPTPP:
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said China should be allowed to join a lucrative 11-nation trading pact provided it met the minimum requirements, putting her at odds with the Australian government which has signalled it could veto China’s application…
“A number of countries have expressed interest, if you’re willing to engage and meet those standards, then we welcome that,” Ms Ardern said, speaking on US network NBC on Sunday morning.
“The CPTPP has set I think a really high bar for what free trade agreements and multi-country free trade agreements can look like, and we would welcome any country into that agreement that’s willing to meet those standards,” she added.
This is absurd by Jacinda Ardern. Over the past two years we have witnessed China ban a range of imports from Australia, in contravention of the free-trade agreement (ChAFTA) that the two nations signed in 2015. We have also witnessed China bully Taiwan and Hong Kong.
China is clearly not honouring its current trade agreements. Until it can be trusted to abide by agreements it makes and behave in a civilised way, China should not be allowed anywhere near new trade deals.
By free-riding on the ANZUS alliance and upgrading Chinese trade, Jacinda Ardern is making precisely the same mistake that led to Australia’s current impasse with China. It is easy to take the dough and run for vested interests. It’s harder to look through the political cycle to the CCP bullying that will inevitably arrive down the road to take away your way of life.
If Jacinda Ardern had the slightest strategic sense, she would be doing everything in her power to diversify New Zealand away from China. She need not do that in a way that antagonises China. But taking the bribe to increase CCP power while obviously humiliating alliance partners is pretty darn stupid.
Does Jacinda Ardern think that holding up the Bledisloe Cup like some magical talisman will prevent the CCP from crushing it when its turn comes?
It’s a question every free Pacific Island nation is now forced to ask.
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