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Wang Huiyao: China should seize opportunity to join TPP

Thursday,Feb 16, 2017

From: Global Times




Following a wave of executive orders, including the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), signed by US President Donald Trump since he took office on January 20, the whole world as well as the US is processing the new style and way of doing things Trump has introduced. Although Sino-US bilateral relations and interactions on the surface remain calm, both sides are keeping a close eye on the other. Sustaining and advancing exchanges in trade and culture aligns with the fundamental interests for both China and the US, and it is believed that with communication to establish the right fit, both nations will achieve a win-win situation via cooperation.

Standing at a new starting point, Chinese diplomacy needs to rally to situations both at home and abroad and prioritize security and development. To foster an advantageous external environment and extend the strategic period of opportunity for Chinese development, China should focus on improving the geopolitical environment, which can be effectively achieved through economic diplomacy.

China's economic development has established a sturdy foundation for economic diplomacy. The US' withdrawal from the TPP, to a certain degree, can be viewed as an opportunity for China to enhance its dialogue for cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region and to improve relations with countries in Asia.

In this respect, joining the TPP could serve as crucial economic leverage and China should seize the opportunity as early as possible.

Since the WTO's Doha round multilateral negotiations have stagnated for more than a decade, many countries have chosen to establish regional or bilateral trade agreements to boost trade. The TPP, known for its enhanced membership, wide coverage of topics and higher standards, is often considered a mini-version of the WTO.

Being a beneficiary of globalization, China needs to push further in that direction and build a global free trade network by actively negotiating free trade zones with neighboring nations. Joining and moving forward with the TPP can help achieve both goals.

The US' withdrawal from the TPP has induced complicated responses and attitudes from other member countries. While some still hold hope in the trade deal, more are starting to look to the important role China plays in the Asia-Pacific region, and some members even have high hopes that China will enter the TPP.

If China grasps the opportunity, extensive cooperation based on mutual benefits is expected and political ties and mutual trust will be improved. It will also help the TPP become an economic governance mechanism.

Even though Trump has pulled the US out of the TPP, he has expressed the need for a "fair trade" arrangement, and he cannot avoid the common interests China and the US share in the Asia Pacific.

Previously, both the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with China's participation and the formerly US-led TPP were considered the most important multilateral economic arrangements in the Asia Pacific, and a sense of confrontation and shadowboxing on the political level was noticed between the two deals. If possible, China's participation in the TPP negotiations could strengthen economic and trade dialogues with TPP member countries, and promote cooperation among all the members under the two trade pacts. Furthermore, by linking the substance between the TPP and the RCEP and attracting US participation in building a Free Trade Area in the Asia-Pacific region will benefit all the countries in the region, help realize inclusive development and better respond to challenges in the world economy.

Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed to "commit China to growing an open global economy, redouble efforts to develop global connectivity, remain committed to developing global free trade and investment as well as promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation" at the 2017 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January, which has drawn enthusiastic responses.

Confronted with rising protectionism, China joining the TPP can be seen as a move to facilitate President Xi's message and will show China's determination in pushing for a win-win situation, which will substantially boost confidence in future economic development in the Asia-Pacific region.

About Author 
Dr. Wang Huiyao is president of the Center for China and Globalization, the largest independent think tank in China, with over 100 researchers and members of staff.


From Global Times,2017-2-16

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