1 Mar, 2016
Beijing, 05 February 2016, (People’s Daily Online)-The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was signed by ministers from its 12 member nations in New Zealand on 04 February 2016. It will take effect after lawmakers from each of these countries ratify it. It looks like it will only be a matter of time before the process is complete.
US President Barack Obama said in a statement that the TPP “would give the United States an advantage over other leading economies, namely China.” He also noted that the “TPP allows America – and not countries like China – to write the rules of the road in the 21st Century, which is especially important in a region as dynamic as the Asia-Pacific.”
It is not the first time that Obama has publicly talked about China like this, which shows his narrow-mindedness as a leader of a world power.
The 12 TPP members account for some 40 percent of the world’s economy, but they only account for 25 percent of global trade volume. Analysts have been talking about its “high standards” such as the share of state-owned enterprises, criteria for environmental protection, labor rights and intellectual property rights.
Another prominent feature of the TPP is that it centers on the US, with the interests of US enterprises being given the highest priority during negotiations.
The US does seem to have gained the upper hand in rule-making. But the TPP only paints a picture based on US wishes for the Asia-Pacific economic landscape in the 21st century.
What the 21st century really looks like and what the actual rules are will be shaped by real influencing factors, including the trade vitality of emerging economies like China and diverse demands from each country, including TPP member states. These two elements are not sufficiently reflected in the TPP.
Obama has reiterated that it is the US, rather than China, that should define the rules in the 21st century, which reinforces people’s impression that the TPP is aimed at excluding China. It seems that Washington is so transparent that it does not mind instigating a strategic trade rivalry between China and the US that goes beyond normal competition.
If this is the case, the TPP is far from enough to secure US “domination” in the world economy in the 21st century. The TPP member nations have their own interests. The TPP cannot prevent them from trading with China and these countries will not pick sides between Beijing and Washington. Meanwhile, it is perhaps a trend that US influence is declining. It is not able to bind more countries under the TPP rules.
China cannot compete with the US in rule-making and its advantage lies in whether it can push forward the country’s economy. As long as the Chinese economy keeps growing, the newly emerged economic volume and trade opportunities will be so prominent that the TPP in some way has to adapt.
China will be better off with its own economic performance than racking its wits to compete with the TPP.