China has applied to join a key Asia-Pacific trade pact as it attempts to strengthen its position in the region.
The move comes the day after a historic security deal between the US, UK and Australia was revealed.
The pact that eventually became the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), was created by the US to counter China’s influence.
However, former President Donald Trump pulled the US out of it in 2017.
Chinese commerce minister Wang Wentao said the world’s second largest economy had submitted its application to join the free trade agreement in a letter to New Zealand’s trade minister, Damien O’Connor.
New Zealand acts as the administrative centre for the pact.
Wang and O’Connor then held a telephone conference to discuss the next steps following China’s application, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said.
The original Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was promoted by then-President Barack Obama as an economic bloc to challenge China’s increasingly powerful position in the Asia Pacific.
After 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 Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan and New Zealand.