Trump’s Decision to Kill the TPP Makes Chinese Officials ‘Lick Their Lips’

The issue of Donald Trump turning his back on a major U.S.-led Pacific trade pact has more than pleased Beijing.

Officials in China are excited about President-elect Trump’s plan to withdraw from U.S. participation in the planned Trans Pacific Partnership, said Ian Bremmer, president of the global intelligence firm Eurasia Group and a closely watched political scientist. Accounting for more than a third of global trade, the proposed free-trade bloc would have included 12 countries.

Especially in the face of an increasingly powerful China that is eager to replace the U.S. as the main power in the region, President Barack Obama and others had argued that the TPP deal was a way for the United States to continue to assert its leadership.

Bremmer said that in the eyes of both Beijing and American allies, Trump’s apparent killing of the TPP creates a geopolitical vacuum.

“This means that everyone in Asia no longer sees the United States as a credible leader, so they have to go to China for leadership. There’s a little bit of triumphalism in Beijing,” Bremmer said.

When it comes to environmental laws, intellectual property rights and labor protections, China now will likely set standards for a major portion of the globe with the demise of the TPP, others have pointed out.

“American allies are freaked out about this in Asia. The Chinese are licking their lips — they’re very happy about it.”-Ian Bremmer, president, Eurasia Group, on the apparent end of the TPP.

Now since China “see opportunity now that they understand the Americans are abdicating,” it is now actively planning “new architecture” for regional leadership that does not include Washington, Bremmer said.

Off course, especially for countries like Japan, South Korea and Australia, this will have major repercussions.

“American allies are freaked out about this in Asia. The Chinese are licking their lips — they’re very happy about it,” Bremmer said in a separate televised interview Wednesday.

With the propaganda outlet Global Times declaring that Trump’s pledge to quit the deal “sends unclear signals’, China has openly started celebrating the TPP’s seeming demise.

“Trump appears to be redesigning the U.S. leadership, withdrawing the country from fields in which he thinks resources are being wasted,” another Global Tomes editorial said. “China thus will gain some room to exert its influence.”

However others are less sure that China will benefit from the apparent collapse of the TPP.

“Net net, the loss of TPP is going to be a loss for China. There’s this popular view that the TPP was meant to be exclusive of China, and that’s simply not true: The U.S. wanted to get China engaged at a second (round of discussions), and the Chinese were quietly showing interest in that,” Meredith Sumpter, who directs the Asia practice at the Eurasia Group, said earlier this month.

“I don’t see any meaningful benefit for China from the U.S. rejection of TPP. There will be a good deal of diplomatic theater but it all gets forgotten by the next news cycle,” Derek Scissors, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in a note.

“The Chinese will talk about grand new deals but the only truly free trade agreement they’ve ever signed is with Taiwan, and that is still primarily political. The Chinese will certainly sign trade agreements, but they will do nothing to change the Asian economy.”

(Adapted from CNBC)

Categories: Economy & Finance

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