The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): A U.S. initiative to counter China


The enlargement and the reform of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been one of the most important policies promoted by the Obama administration in the Asia Pacific region. A historic debate over trade is now heating up in Washington. President Barack Obama hopes to persuade Congress to grant him fast-track trade authority to help complete negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive multilateral deal involving the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries. The talks include nations on both sides of the Pacific, ranging from Japan to Australia to Peru. Together with the U.S., the group represents a third of world trade and 40% of global GDP.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional regulatory and investment treaty. As of 2014, twelve countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region have participated in negotiations on the TPP: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. The Obama administration is taking the initiative to promote the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It serves the strategy for expanding US exports for the purpose of enhancing US competitiveness in Asia-Pacific and safeguarding US dominance in this region. TPP would also give the U.S. a firmer commercial foothold in the world’s most economically dynamic region, and it could aid U.S. efforts to negotiate future diplomatic agreements in Asia–even with China, which pointedly isn’t a part of the deal.
Momentum in Washington behind an ambitious Pacific free-trade pact gives new energy to a U.S.-Japan campaign to counter China’s influence in Asia. Less than a month after Beijing embarrassed the two allies by persuading more than 50 countries, including some of Washington’s closest allies in Europe, to join its new regional infrastructure bank—over American objections and Japanese resistance.
The U.S., the world’s largest economy, has chosen not to apply for founding membership in the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a status that would give it a voice in setting its rules and institutional framework. And China, the world’s second-largest economy, wasn’t invited to join the proposed U.S.-led TPP.
“China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region,” Mr. Obama said in his State of the Union address this year. “Why would we let that happen? We should write those rules.”
Last fall at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which was hosted by China, the U.S., Japan and other countries blocked Beijing’s bid to start negotiating terms for the possible new free-trade zone, arguing that it could delay the TPP and other deals.
More interesting was the argument that Mr. Obama did deploy in favor of the trade deals: Anticipating the usual case against free trade, he recast the proposed pacts as measures to support U.S. jobs at the expense of China. “Today, our businesses export more than ever, and exporters tend to pay their workers higher wages,” he proclaimed. “But as we speak, China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region. That would put our workers and our businesses at a disadvantage.”
China, a big socialist nation on rapid rise, has become the main target of suspicion and containment of America. Although the Obama administration attaches importance to the bilateral relations with China, it has still taken on the mantle of containing China from its predecessor, and has gone even beyond. Pushing forward the TPP obviously reflects its strategic consideration against China.
China’s rise has challenged the U.S. and its economy by promoting a system of state capitalism that gives political officials a powerful role in directing market activity. By using state-owned companies, state-run banks and loyal firms to achieve political goals, China has tilted the commercial playing field away from foreign companies and the U.S.
TPP can help counter the growth of Chinese-style state capitalism in Asia in much the same way that potential European Union membership once encouraged reform in former communist nations. Countries like Poland and Estonia learned to abide by E.U. rules that advantage private-sector competition and liberalized labor, trade and investment standards.
The deal would provide a landmark win for free markets, the rule of law and Western labor and environmental standards while inviting Beijing’s neighbors to hedge their bets on China by also strengthening investment ties with the U.S. and other TPP members. It would signal that America intends to remain in Asia as a stabilizer even as China becomes an ever more influential player.
The role of the TPP should also be understood for its strategic purpose. The TPP should be interpreted as a response to the Chinese challenge for a number of reasons.
First, reversing the US disadvantage vis-à-vis China in terms of economic and trade relations with East Asia. China has now ranked the world’s second largest economy and the largest economy in Asia, and the world’s second largest trading country and the largest exporter, and seems to almost catch up with the US in terms of the scale of economy and foreign trade, which has already made the United States jealous. So it becomes more urgent for the United States to build East Asia countries-based trans-Pacific free trade partnership to reverse America’s declining tendency.
Second, pursuing substantial regional cooperation with East Asian countries to counter and suppress the expansion of Chinese influence. In order to change America’s passive and lagging situation in the East Asian regional cooperation, the Obama administration is trying to push forward the TPP construction, with a view to promoting cooperation with the East Asian countries on the Asia Pacific regional cooperation, containing the expansion of China’s influence in this region, and reviving the US dominance in East Asia and the whole Asia-Pacific region.
Third, driving a wedge between China and East Asian countries by taking advantage of some East Asian countries’ doubts about China. With China’s peaceful development concept and good-neighborly policy deeply rooted in neighboring countries, China’s relations with East Asian countries have developed smoothly in general, and mutual relationship is in the best period in history. But needless to say, some East Asian countries, especially the nations involved in territorial disputes with China, influenced by the “China Threat” theory spread by some minded Westerners, still have doubts and suspicions on China and hope to balance China’s influence with American power. The United States intends to take advantage of that to drive a wedge between them. The US plan to bring most East Asian countries including Japan and other countries having islands and territorial waters disputes with China into the TPP exposes the US intention to make use of them to counter China, while expanding its own power and influence in East Asia at the same time.
Both economically and geopolitically, the ­Trans-Pacific Partnership would perpetuate the United States’ stabilizing role in Asia; it is one of the Obama administration’s brightest ideas. All that’s left now is for both the president and Republican leaders in Congress to keep their promises and make it happen. And for President Obama, TPP would anchor the legacy of a leader who has often seemed adrift in global politics./.
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All comments [ 12 ]

Huy Lâm 6/5/15 21:05

America’s partners around the East and South China Seas need to match China’s maritime presence.

Hoàng Lân 6/5/15 21:07

China’s rise has challenged the U.S. and its economy, U.S. worries to lose influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Hùng Quân 6/5/15 21:08


Phạm Hiếu 6/5/15 21:09

In order to keep up with China’s growing influence and military capabilities, U.S. policymakers will inevitably press America’s partners for greater contributions to the region’s security.

Quân Hoàng 6/5/15 21:10

China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region. Why would we let that happen?

Lê Tín 6/5/15 21:13

Let the US be a counterbalance to the "peaceful rise" China - a threat to neighboring countries.

Huy Quốc 6/5/15 21:14

The U.S. government should continue its support of ASEAN’s unity and its role in promoting a binding Code of Conduct for resolving disputes in the South China Sea.

Quốc Cường 6/5/15 21:15

Neither China or U.S. doesn't bring any good for us.

Quốc Kiên 6/5/15 21:17

The United States should quietly rally Japan, Australia, and India, the other three big powers in the network, to assist and subsidize a matching maritime presence in the two seas.

Vân Nhàn 6/5/15 21:21

China is not opponent to U.S. in all aspects, but I don't think U.S. and China want to enter into a conflict.

Funny Day 7/5/15 22:59

joining TPP will bring Vietnam many benefits, especially Vietnam will have a good chance to remove it's dependence on China

Phu Chem 7/5/15 23:06

right, so China relatively worries about Vietnam's membership of TPP

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