Daily US Times: China has applied to join a key Asia-Pacific trade pact as the country attempts to strengthen its position in the region.
China’s step comes the day after a historic security pact between the UK, US and Australia was unveiled.
The deal that eventually became the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), was created by the United States to counter China’s influence.
However, former US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of it in 2017.
Wang Wentao, Chinese commerce minister, said the world’s second largest economy had submitted its application to join the CPTPP in a letter to New Zealand’s trade minister, Damien O’Connor.
New Zealand is the administrative centre for the pact.
Mr O’Connor and Mr Wang then talk over telephones to discuss the next steps following China’s application, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said.
The original Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was promoted by former US President Barack Obama as an economic bloc to challenge China’s increasingly powerful position in the Asia Pacific.
After Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal, Japan led negotiations to create what became the CPTPP.
The CPTPP was signed in 2018 by 11 countries, including Chile, Japan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
The UK formally launched negotiations to join the CPTPP in June, while Thailand has also signalled interest in joining the agreement.
Joining the trade partnership would be a significant boost for China, especially after it signed up to a different free trade agreement with 14 countries – called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – in November.