China moves to fill US power vacuum with Asia trade deals

China moves to fill US power vacuum with Asia trade deals

Three-way FTA with Japan and South Korea likely next, analysts say

BEIJING — “Ladies and gentlemen, friends, the Asia-Pacific is our shared home.”

So declared Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday to an APEC-related business gathering.

“We welcome cooperation with every other region, country or company that wants to do so,” he said, playing the part of global statesman as he famously did at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2017.

In an apparent jab at the U.S., the Chinese leader said that “mounting unilateralism, protectionism and bullying as well as backlash against economic globalization have added to risks and uncertainties in the world economy.”

His remarks to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum’s virtual events last week underscored Beijing’s eagerness to fill the growing economic power vacuum left by the U.S. over the decade since the global financial crisis.

Xi said in a Friday speech that China will “favorably consider” joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional trade agreement. This announcement came on the heels of the long-awaited conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership on Nov. 15, portraying Beijing as a promoter of free trade.