(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) – China formally asked to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership, shortly after the United States and the United Kingdom decided to arm Australia with sub- nuclear sailors to challenge Beijing’s assertiveness. It is insolent for President Xi Jinping to try to strike a trade pact specially crafted by frustrated US trade negotiators to contain Chinese state-owned enterprises. The leader may not even be willing to make the concessions that would persuade skeptical trading partners like Japan to admit it. But that might not be the point.
President Joe Biden has not relaunched negotiations to join the CPTPP, already signed by 11 countries with a combined economic output of around $ 14 trillion, thanks to national opposition. China’s candidacy only strengthens its argument that it is a bigger supporter of free trade than the White House. And it shows that Beijing does not want to compartmentalize negotiations with Washington or Canberra. Military measures can be countered with economic measures, while climate cooperation will require US concessions elsewhere. Who contains who? (By Pete Sweeney)
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(Edited by Robyn Mak and Karen Kwok)
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