Walter Lohman, the director of the Heritage Foundation’s Asia Studies Center, recently said China should be permitted to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership if all participating countries agree to allow it and as long as the country can fulfill the agreement.
“The only stipulation on China’s entry beyond technical compliance with the agreement should be the extension of equal opportunity to Taiwan,” Lohman said.
Lohman said similar arrangements allowed China to join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and World Trade Organization, noting that Taiwan’s economy is larger than many of the participants in the TPP.
“It would also be among the more developed economies represented in the negotiations,” Lohman said. “The prevention of its participation would be an artificial political barrier. Taiwan has been generally neglected in the Administration’s rebalance. Exclusion from the TPP would be a serious blow to its efforts to fully and formally keep pace with the economic integration taking place around it, and would leave it, by default, overly dependent on China.”
Lohman said the U.S. can protect its political and security interests as it contends with a burgeoning Chinese economy while also attempting to manage diplomatic and political conflicts.
“In order to do that, (America) must consistently articulate and advocate its vision for, not just transpacific, but global, free trade,” Lohman said. “If it does this effectively—particularly if it successfully concludes the TPP—all the other pieces of America’s economic statecraft in the region will fall into place, and the other elements of the rebalance…will assume their proper perspective in the strategy.”