China Applies To Join CPTPP Trade Pact - Boasts Its Leadership Will Leave US "Increasingly Isolated"

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Sep 16, 2021 - 10:50 PM

In a hugely symbolic move sure to have lasting consequences for any future Washington efforts to isolate Beijing, China has filed an application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the country's commerce ministry announced Thursday. 

The Pacific trade pact involves Japan, Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and others among 11 total countries, which began in 2018 - though previous to that it was known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and ironically was long deemed a crucial economic counterweight to China's regional influence. Britain is currently also in negotiations to joint by the end of 2022, London confirmed this summer.

Image source: Reuters

During the Obama administration, the US had framed it as a trade bloc for countering China's influence, arguing that the US should be the spearhead of regional rules of trade. Trump had later pulled out of the deal in 2017. The CPTPP subsequently replaced the TPP, with Japan leading the revised pact.

Without doubt some US officials and Congressional China hawks are expected to push back with regional allies against the prospect of China's joining. Reuters and Bloomberg confirmed the application on Thursday, detailing that "China submitted the formal application letter to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to New Zealand, according to a statement late on Thursday (Spet 16) in Beijing." 

China state-run media hailed the application as affirming China's leading role in global trade and success in resisting Washington pressures. For example Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times had this to say in a Thursday op-ed just hours after the announcement:

The late-night announcement aims to cement China's leadership role in global trade, while piling pressure on the US that has thus far stayed away from rejoining the revised version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a regional trade pact initiated by the US under former President Barack Obama that was widely believed to be aimed at containing China's rise, experts said. 

GT took further swipes, suggesting China represents multilateralism in the face of Washington bullying as follows:

China is hoping for the CPTPP to put global trade and economic cooperation back on track, underscoring the need for multilateralism, thereby reviving both the Chinese economy and the global economy in the post-COVID-19 era.

More importantly, watchers of international affairs stressed that China's latest step that is set to steady its partnership with CPTPP members, would inevitably subject the US to what could be overwhelming pressure.

Meanwhile, Beijing continues to denounce those in the West who seek "ideological confrontation"...

Further the official publication said, "The US' changed course on trade policy has remained in place even after Trump's successor Joe Biden broke with Trump's unruly go-it-alone mentality in foreign policy, rejoining the Paris climate change agreement and becoming a member of the World Health Organization once again."

Among the major hurdles in entry negotiations will include the ongoing China-Australia trade dispute which has seen aggressive China-leveled tariffs effectively block billions of dollars in Aussie exports to its number one trading partner, a devastating blow to Australian industries including wine-producers, meat, barely and other commodities.