Beijing eyes greater influence in Asia-Pacific through economic integration
BEIJING/SINGAPORE — Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday said China is open to joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, in a likely move to bolster the country’s presence in Asia while the U.S. focuses on its presidential transition.
China “will favorably consider joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Xi said, referring to the 11-member trade pact, during a virtual summit for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
Twenty-one economies, including Japan, China, the U.S., Canada, South Korea and Indonesia, took part in the APEC summit.
His remarks signaled that China plans to play a larger economic role in the region as the U.S. retreats from multilateral trade frameworks. President Donald Trump has pulled the U.S. out of the TPP under his “America first” strategy.
The Chinese leader also welcomed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a long-sought trade pact that 15 countries including China, Japan and South Korea signed the weekend prior.
This is the first time Xi commented on joining the TPP, a deal renamed as the CPTPP after the U.S. departed. The pact went into force at the end of 2018 and includes such nations as Japan, Australia and Singapore.
Chinese entry into the TPP would make make Xi’s government a member of the Asia-Pacific region’s two biggest trade arrangements, while Washington is part of neither.
“We must stay as determined as ever to support the multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core, promote free and open trade and investment, and make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all,” Xi said. “Continued efforts are needed to press ahead with regional economic integration,” he added.