China Seeks to Join Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

On October 26, 2015, the Chinese Communist Party newspaper Study Times published a commentary article advocating Communist China’s eventual participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).


The TPP is a proposed “trade” pact negotiated among 12 Pacific Rim nations (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam) representing 40 percent of world GDP. Earlier this month, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced that the United States and the 11 other participating Pacific Rim nations had reached a final agreement on the TPP.


The biweekly Study Times is an official publication of the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC (Communist Party of China), otherwise known as the Central Party School, whose main function is training rising Chinese Communist Party officials.


“The Central Party School publishes several newspapers and periodicals, such as Study Times, Theory Forum, Chinese Cadres Tribune and Journal of the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC, and runs a book publishing house and an audio-visual publishing house,” states the Central Party School’s official website.


The commentary published in the Study Times stated commonality between both the TPP and Communist China’s own economic objectives. “The rules of the TPP and the direction of China’s reforms and opening up are in line,” the Communist Party of China said in its newspaper.


The commentary added, “China should keep paying close attention and at an appropriate time, in accordance with progress on domestic reform, join the TPP, while limiting the costs associated to the greatest degree.” In other words, China should bide its time for an expedient opportunity to fully join the TPP.


The Study Times commentary also admitted that “China is currently working with the US to discuss bilateral investment agreements in order to access the ‘national treatment before admission + Negative List’ mode as the basis for negotiations, in line with TPP requirements.”


In 2008, President George W. Bush and then-Chinese President Hu Jintao began negotiations toward a U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). The Obama administration announced the completion of a four-year government review on the U.S.-China BIT in 2012 and resumed negotiations in 2013. Although little is known of the major U.S.-China BIT, it is significant that the Study Times revealed that U.S.-China BIT negotiations are “in line with TPP requirements.” A U.S.-China BIT that is line with TPP requirements would likely easily enable China’s inclusion in the TPP.


The commentary article, entitled “How to face the TPP,” originally appeared in Mandarin on page A4 of the October 26, 2015 first edition of the Study Times newspaper.


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