US should consider Beijing-backed trade deal – Chinese media

China to seek support for two trade models seen as competitors to TPP at Peru summit

Donald Trump's administration should consider supporting a Beijing-backed free trade deal in the Asia-Pacific as an alternative to the doomed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the state-owned newspaper China Daily said.

China has championed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade talks, in which the United States is not involved, as an alternative to the TPP, which was part of President Barack Obama's plans for an "Asian Pivot" of US influence in a region where Beijing is keen to boost its influence and keep Washington at bay.

China was fearful that the US would marginalise Beijing by forging alliances with would-be partners in the region, especially as tensions have been running high with many of Beijing’s neighbours over China’s ambitions in the South China Sea.

"Of course, Beijing is understandably relieved that the exclusive, economically inefficient, politically antagonising TPP is looking ever less likely to materialise by the day," the English-language China Daily said in the commentary.


While the editorial does not necessarily represent official thinking, these commentaries are a useful indication of the view from the central government.

Economic influence

“After all, the trade grouping has been essentially driven by the US’ strategic considerations and meant to counter China’s economic influence in the Asia-Pacific,” it said.

During his election campaign, Mr Trump called the TPP a "disaster". However, the China Daily also warned that there were no guarantees the TPP would fail once Mr Trump gets into office.

The RCEP includes the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

China is also promoting another trade deal, the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). Both are seen as competitors to the TPP and China will be looking for support for both at a regional summit in Peru later this month, which Mr Obama will also attend.

“China and the US are not allies, and are not likely to be in the foreseeable future given their dramatic differences. But that does not mean they cannot be partners,” it said.

The China Daily is not the only state media running commentary on Mr Trump. Earlier this week the Global Times warned Mr Trump against starting a trade war with China by declaring the country a currency manipulator.

It said China would take a “tit-for-tat” approach.

"A batch of Boeing orders will be replaced by Airbus. US auto and iPhone sales in China will suffer a setback, and US soybean and maize imports will be halted. China can also limit the number of Chinese students studying in the US," it said.

Clifford Coonan

Clifford Coonan

Clifford Coonan, an Irish Times contributor, spent 15 years reporting from Beijing