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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion -> 
China and TPP
    2015-10-12  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Xu Qinduo

    xuqinduo@gmail.com

    THE just-concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, or TPP, is poised to be a milestone not only for its high standards on free trade, but also in a geopolitical sense as the U.S. gains new momentum in counterbalancing the rise of China in the Asia-Pacific region. TPP presents a huge challenge for Chinese regarding how to respond in a constructive way that avoids confronting the U.S. directly while continuing its peaceful rise.

    TPP serves multiple purposes. For the majority of the 12 member countries, it sets the highest standards of free trade to date. It will boost trade and economic growth for member countries. All the countries win more than they lose.

    For the U.S., TPP weighs more in geopolitical than trade benefits. As U.S. President Barack Obama said, the U.S., instead of China, needs to write the trade rules for the 21st century. Sounds like a zero-sum game.

    China is the target here. If you remember, in the U.S. Congress, there’s a rumored principle for TPP membership called ABC: Anyone But China. Later on, the U.S. explained that the reason for excluding China is Beijing is not up to the threshold standard yet. But then why is Vietnam, a country with similar political and economic systems to China, included?

    U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in even clearer terms that TPP is as important as a new aircraft carrier.

    Naturally, there’s heated discussion inside China about what effects TPP will have on China and how the country should act in response. On the surface, China appears to be facing marginalization — exclusion from the fancy new club despite being a large player. Some even say China stands as the biggest loser in the deal.

    Thanks to the gradual removal of trade barriers, products made in countries such as Vietnam will more easily enter the U.S. market at the expense of Chinese manufacturers. Electronic products from Japan and Malaysia will also find it less difficult to beat their Chinese counterparts.

    However, the losses may not be as big as once thought, partly because of the bilateral free trade agreements signed between China and TPP member countries like Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Chile. These FTAs will help offset potential damages to the Chinese side. For example, foreign investments less than US$200 million will be unblocked in New Zealand under TPP, but that same change will also apply to Chinese investors because of “most favored nation” clauses in the two countries’ free trade agreement.

    

    China is working on more FTAs with other countries, including an upgraded version with ASEAN countries. China is also leading efforts to negotiate more inclusive free trade agreements such as RCEP, or Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnerships.

    RCEP, which is comprised of the 10-nation ASEAN club plus six others — China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand — is a Beijing-backed trade framework that has gained prominence as an alternative to U.S. plans.

    Also, China is the largest trading partner for more than 100 countries in the world. It’s hard to imagine China being marginalized.

    But on a strategic level, TPP poses a serious dilemma for Beijing. Rule-making is probably the ultimate power a country can assume in shaping a future world in which it ensures its position like the U.S. did. And that’s largely why Washington rejected the invitation to join the China-led AIIB — Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank. Then should China join the U.S.-led TPP? China is yet to fully appraise the documents of TPP, but it’s safe to say it’d be easy for China to embrace TPP since it doesn’t seek to replace the U.S. as the number one country and respects the heavy presence of Washington in the Asia Pacific.

    Another choice would be to establish a system of its own. China has the means and potential to do so. But doing that would go against the Chinese principle of not disrupting the existing international system, which it benefits from.

    China’s official response to TPP is a bit surprising in its welcoming tone. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said China is open to any mechanism that follows the rules of the World Trade Organization and can boost the economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region. You can also read that as a revelation of open-mindedness or even self-confidence from Beijing.

    So a likely scenario could be a pragmatic choice from Beijing, depending on the “cost and effect” of joining TPP versus staying out of it.

    Besides, China is transforming its economic pattern from relying on export and investment to one focused more on domestic consumption and service industries. That means China is on its way to becoming not only the largest economy but also possibly the largest consumer market in the world. Therefore, from a long-term point of view, can any country afford to overlook the number one market in the world?

    (The author is a current affairs commentator with China Radio International and a visiting scholar at the University of Melbourne.)

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