China applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Treaty of Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) after the AUKUS was agreed, a report by the United States-China Commission indicated.
In September 2021, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce submitted a formal application to join CPTPP.
Beijing’s request followed the announcement of AUKUS, a trilateral security pact, between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, although Secretary General Xi Jinping had shown interest in joining CPTPP in November 2020.
For the Commission, the geopolitical frictions between China and the CPTPP signatories, as well as Beijing’s “distorting economic practices”, will likely thwart Beijing’s attempt to join the trade pact.
On the one hand, the CPTPP is a free trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.
The CPTPP has been in force for six members since December 30, 2018 (Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore), while for Vietnam its validity began on January 14, 2019 and for Peru, the September 19, 2021. The remaining three members (Brunei, Chile and Malaysia) have not yet ratified the agreement.
The CPTPP signatories began accession negotiations with the UK in June 2021.
Furthermore, AUKUS was announced on September 15, 2021. Under the pact, the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia agreed to consult for 18 months to determine the best way to build a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.
The three countries also intend to deepen cooperation on a variety of other security and defense priorities, including strengthening joint capabilities and interoperability in cybernetics, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional underwater capabilities.
Most observers perceived AUKUS as a counter measure against China.
Under the pact, the United States and the United Kingdom agreed to help Australia acquire a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines by sharing advanced technology for nuclear propulsion.
Such a fleet will enhance the interoperability of the three countries and efforts to counter Chinese military expansion in the Indo-Pacific.