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Can the CPTPP change China, or will China change it?

Members should negotiate prudently and stand firmly behind pact's standards

Lines of trucks are seen at a container terminal at Ningbo Zhoushan port in Zhejiang province, China, on Aug. 15.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- China's request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade pact has divided observers between those who see it as a valuable opportunity to encourage economic reform, and those, including this reporter, who believe that members should proceed with caution.

The first camp argues that the conditions for joining the CPTPP are quite detailed and stringent, providing little wiggle room for exceptions for China. Given this, the thinking goes, engaging with the Chinese bid could prod Beijing to set fairer, more transparent rules.

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