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China Throws Weight Around Trans-Pacific Partnership Withdrawal Effect Surfaces

July 30, 2018

As the Trump administration presses useless tariffs on many Chinese products, China has demonstrated the folly of one of Trump’s first acts in office — his withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. Earlier this year, China ordered U.S. airlines to stop referring to “Taiwan” in their marketing and reservations systems and instead use the China-preferred Taipei. Taiwan and China have been governed independently and separately since the communist victory on the mainland in 1949, but China still claims that Taiwan is but a province that it calls Taipei. The Trump administration rightly referred to the Chinese demand as “Orwellian nonsense” but, last week, U.S. airlines faced with losing the huge Chinese market rolled over and dutifully began referring to Taipei in their advertising and in their reservation systems. The Trans-Pacific Partnership was a coalition of 12 Pacific Rim nations, led by the United States. It posed a unified market of 793 million consumers, 29 percent of the global market. The other members of the pact have decided to proceed without the United States, but the American absence provides much greater weight to China in the region, and it obviously is not afraid to throw around that weight. Rather than tariffs that simply drive up costs for American consumers and diminish U.S. exports, the administration should re-enter the TPP to establish regional parity with China. Doing so might well diminish China’s ability to impose “Orwellian nonsense” on American companies doing business in Asia.

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