On February 4, Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said that China is actively conducting research on issues related to joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. CPTPP) and ready to strengthen technical exchanges with CPTPP members on related issues.
According to Mr. Gao Feng, China’s active consideration of joining the CPTPP is in line with the requirements of establishing a new development model to promote economic globalization and regional economic integration.
|China announced that it is actively considering joining the CPTPP|
Bai Ming, deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce’s International Market Research Institute, told the Global Times: this signals that China is actively addressing accession issues. CPTPP. He emphasized: China has an open and positive attitude towards participating in the CPTPP.
Bai said that the country will study and evaluate the pros and cons as well as the possibility of joining the agreement, noting that there is still a long way to go until China submits a formal application due to the environment. complex geopolitics.
However, despite the anti-globalization trend and the rise of unilateralism and protectionism, China continues to open up and expand economic and trade cooperation with other countries.
This is not the first time China has expressed interest in the CPTPP. In 2013, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said China was ready to “discuss exchanges and interact with frameworks like the TPP”. In the following years, many ministries repeatedly emphasized that they are studying the feasibility of China joining TPP.
In November 2020, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that Beijing would consider joining the CPTPP.
This statement came just days after the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed. China’s process of ratifying the agreement, which began in December 2020, is going as planned and the Chinese government aims to complete it within a six-month period.
The signing of the RCEP has raised concerns about the US absence in Asia, and China’s expressed interest in joining the CPTPP, only exacerbates these concerns. In response, there were many calls for the administration of President Biden to act quickly and decisively by re-joining the CPTPP.
In an article on The Diplomat in mid-January this year, Professor Saori N. Katada and Dr. Alex Yu-Ting Lin (at the same University of Southern California) commented, this reaction is natural, but too early, for giving that China’s interest in the CPTPP is largely undermining US influence in Asia.
Accordingly, China’s expression of interest in the CPTPP is not new and is not necessarily motivated by geopolitical competition requirements. Instead, it reflects a long-standing strategy since the early 2010s in which Chinese leaders hailed the CPTPP (and its predecessor) and declared they were interested in joining to facilitate the Event for domestic economic reform.
If the United States announced its intention to rejoin the CPTPP soon, but was later hindered by domestic anti-globalization sentiments, it would be even more detrimental to America’s reputation in Asia. A more patient strategy in which the US first addresses its domestic challenges and allows China to solve its problems will benefit both countries.
For observers, the signing of the RCEP and China’s interest in the CPPTPP worries the US for two reasons. First, Xi’s announcement signaled a fundamental policy shift: Now, encouraged by the RCEP’s success, China is poised to capitalize on America’s absence in regulating the regional economy. after four years of the Trump administration. Second, with 15 Asia-Pacific member countries, RCEP is currently the largest free trade agreement in the region. Hence, the real potential of the US being excluded from Asia.
As a result, questions about China’s geopolitical motives, including the suggestion that Beijing wants to gut the CPTPP from the inside before the US re-joins, has become commonplace.
What are China’s possible dynamics? According to The Diplomat, most of them are motivated by reform considerations in the country. Throughout the initial TPP negotiations, there was a broad consensus within and outside China that it would not be able to participate because of TPP’s strict entry requirements. However, as a previous article has pointed out, Chinese scholars and officials have repeatedly stressed that TPP research can help their domestic reform programs even if China does not. join TPP.
Indeed, China’s traditional developmentist export promotion strategy leveraging its lower labor costs has produced great results over the past four decades. However, it had reached its limit. China now needs to move to the next level. Although the CPTPP has loosened some of the requirements compared to the original TPP, China’s actual accession will still be hindered by serious obstacles, such as the ban on non-commercial support for businesses. government.
Therefore, expressing interest in joining the CPTPP, even if it doesn’t actually happen, is often meant to motivate and discuss domestic reforms in China.
Experts also recommend that the use of economic tools by China to put pressure on others is well recognized and that China’s newly adopted export control system has raised concerns. . Experts suggest the US needs to get involved in Asia and the CPTPP is an important tool to do so. But the US must make China act with caution.