China has applied to join an Asia-Pacific trade pact once pushed by the U.S. as a way to isolate Beijing and solidify American dominance in the region.
The country submitted a formal application letter to join the deal, known officially as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, according to a statement late Thursday in Beijing.
This is great news. China should be welcomed into the CPTPP if it agrees to adhere to all of their rules (currently it does not.) There should be a provision that no CPTPPP member is allowed to impose economic sanctions on another member in response to any sort of “free speech” in any member country. Today, China retaliates against speech that it opposes in other countries. If China wants to join under those conditions, then let it in. We should encourage any agreement that makes China less nationalistic, less of a rogue nation. (Ditto for the US.)
A number of members of Congress have been calling for the U.S. to either rejoin the CPTPP or to be more active on trade diplomacy in the region. However, the Biden administration hasn’t announced any concrete trade policies for the region, although there are reports it’s discussing a digital trade deal covering Asia-Pacific economies.
“The future of technology, trade and defense is either going to be led by the Chinese Communist Party or by the United States and our allies,” U.S. Senator Ben Sasse said in response to the news. “If China sees the value in building alliances across the Pacific, why can’t the United States? Let’s get back into a position of leadership instead of retreat.”
Ben Sasse is correct. (He’s one of the few members of the GOP who has not entirely caved in to Trumpism.) And yet I’m not optimistic. I predicted that Biden would be a lousy president, and so far I’ve been right. (Although he’s still 100 times better than Trump.)
BTW, the WaPo has a good article on how our misguided cold war with China is leading to the arrest of lots of Chinese-American scientists on trumped up charges of “spying”.