A major goal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), intended to cover about 40 percent of world trade, was to ensure that rule of law nations, not China, would write the rules for the world economy in the 21st century.
The Obama administration concluded that the TPP would spur economic growth and create new jobs, while building US strategic interests in Asia. President Trump saw it as adding to American decline in manufacturing and withdrew immediately upon taking office in 2017.
In February 2021, after its formal departure from the European Union, the United Kingdom requested membership in the CPTPP. Taiwan and China recently applied, further pressuring the Biden administration to join as part of the President’s ‘Build Back Better World’.
Negotiating entry for China in the CPTPP would face numerous obstacles. Most democratic governments deplore how Xi Jinping’s increasingly totalitarian regime treats workers, farmers, Hong Kongers, Tibetans, Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghurs, Christians and other communities. The dystopian police state includes forced labour.
The world economy is now starting to recover from the pandemic, and unemployment is mercifully falling in some nations despite predatory trade and other economic practices by China and others. Canada should still trade cautiously with the Middle Kingdom, but trade cannot outdo a judicious advancing of our strategic interests in concert with those who share our values.
In short, we believe an enlarged CPTPP without China is undoubtedly the best choice for the democracies in Asia and beyond.