China will be handed the opportunity to reshape the rules for global trade and profit from a more isolated US if President-elect Donald Trump carries out his pledge to abandon the landmark TPP pact, observers say.
The likely demise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has been welcomed by state media in China, where the deal had been criticised as a naked attempt to boost US influence in the region and contain the Asian giant.
The TPP’s goal, the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily said in a Thursday commentary, had been “to establish America’s economic dominance by excluding and suppressing China with economic containment”.
Trump’s new course will “see China benefiting most from increased US protectionism”, the often nationalist Global Times newspaper said, adding the world’s second-largest economy could “pick up the slack” and “lead free trade”.
The real estate mogul’s insurgent presidential bid was built in part on a pledge to overturn trade deals that he says have drained American jobs and destroyed its industrial heartlands.
He duly promised this week to declare a withdrawal from the TPP — a vast, arduously negotiated agreement between 12 countries that does not include China — on his first day in office.
US allies, who spent years selling the TPP to some reluctant electorates in the hope of yoking America closer to several like-minded Pacific democracies, are clearly disappointed.
The pact is the economic plank of Barack Obama’s strategic rebalance to Asia, and a US departure would render it “meaningless”, said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.