Chairman of Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Eric Chu Li-luan has sought support from Washington officials to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during his US visit, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported.

The 54-year-old, the KMT’s presidential candidate in next year’s election following his dramatic replacement of Hung Hsiu-chu, kicked off his trip in Los Angeles on Tuesday and arrived in Washington on Wednesday.

Chu met with Ed Royce, chairman of  the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, who agreed to convey Taiwan’s interest in joining the TPP to US trade officials, CNA said.

KMT chair Eric Chu.

The TPP is a trade pact initiated by the US to enhance economic cooperation between countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Twelve nations have joined so far, including Malaysia, Japan and Singapore, but not China. Taiwan and South Korea, as well as more Southeast Asian countries, have said they wish to take part in the second round of negotiations.

During his visit, Chu also discussed the outcome of the historic summit held recently between sitting president Ma Ying-jeou and his mainland counterpart Xi Jinping.

At a welcome banquet held by Taiwanese expatriates, Chu said the KMT is “on the right track” in handling cross-strait ties.

Xi and Ma met in Singapore last Saturday in the first summit between the heads of the Chinese and Taiwanese governments since 1949. A number of issues were brought up including the international marginalisation of Taiwan. However, no agreement was reached and no joint statement was issued.

The Xi-Ma meeting gave a small boost to Chu’s popularity in the polls, Taiwan’s Now News reported. With a mere 20 percent support rate, however, Chu continues to lag behind his rival Tsai Ing-wen of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), whose support rate was 46 percent in the latest survey.

Chu is set to visit New York and San Francisco after staying in Washington for two days. He will return to Taiwan next Monday.

Vivienne Zeng

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.