US president-elect Donald Trump’s administration should consider supporting a Beijing-backed free-trade deal in the Asia-Pacific region, Chinese state media said yesterday, adding that China would be relieved to see a rival US-led trade deal wither under Trump.
During his election campaign, Trump took a protectionist stance on trade issues and labeled the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) championed by US President Barack Obama a “disaster.” There is now little chance of it coming up for a vote in Washington before Trump’s inauguration in January.
Obama had framed the TPP, which excludes China, as part of his “pivot to Asia” and as an effort to write Asia’s trade rules before Beijing could.
China had feared the US would use the TPP to either force it to open markets by signing up or else to isolate it from other regional economies.
“Of course, Beijing is understandably relieved that the exclusive, economically inefficient, politically antagonizing TPP is looking ever less likely to materialize by the day,” the official English-language China Daily newspaper said in an editorial.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade talks, which are supported by Beijing, but to which the US is not a party, are viewed by some observers as a competitor to US economic leadership in the region.
“The incoming administration should realize that the more open, inclusive Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will turn out to be a far more efficient vehicle for advancing US interests,” the China Daily said.
“Washington may want to take advantage of the nascent, evolving platform and become involved from the rulemaking stage. US influence in the Asia-Pacific will not abate if the Trump administration chooses to engage with the region constructively,” the newspaper said.
Such editorials in state-run media do not represent Chinese government policy, but they are indicative of official thinking.
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