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Rival China and Taiwan bids put CPTPP's free trade mettle to test

Japan under mounting pressure to defend rules-based order

A container terminal at China's Ningbo-Zhoushan Port in Zhejiang Province. China applied to join the CPTPP on Sept. 16, and Taiwan followed with its own application on Sept. 22.   © Reuters

TOKYO/WASHINGTON -- Membership bids filed just days apart by Beijing and Taipei have turned the 11-nation CPTPP trade bloc into the latest flashpoint in the push to build a global, rules-based trade order.

Originally conceived to counter Beijing's growing economic clout in the Pacific Rim, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership has seen its members split in their response to the dueling bids. With the U.S. no longer part of the framework, Japan now faces a challenge in trying to keep the bloc unified over its founding principles on transparency and market access.

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