News Release

TPP and China: “It’s the Geopolitics Stupid”


Director of programs for the American Friends Service Committee in New England, Gerson recently wrote the piece “More than Economics: TPP, Empire and Common Security Alternatives.”

He said today: “As we can read in the Asian press, ‘It’s the geopolitics stupid: U.S.-led TPP trade pact less about boosting economies than about containing China’s rise.’ The trade pact is the economic dimension of the United States’ military, economic, political and social ‘pivot’ to Asia and the Pacific, designed to contain China and to manage its rise regardless of Chinese interests and aspirations. It is worth noting that only five of the Treaty’s 29 chapters directly address trade.

“Two elements are central to the agreement: deepening the integration of non-Chinese Asia-Pacific economies with the United States, which in turn will serve to reinforce Washington’s campaign to reinforce and expand military alliances encircling China. Second, are the treaty’s provisions for the privatization of state-owned enterprises, the foundations of China’s economy and much of its political system. For Beijing to gain the advantages of deepening engagement with the TPP, whose nations produce 40 percent of world GDP, it would have to undergo an economic and political revolution.

“The best way to make China an enemy is to treat it as such, and we don’t need a new Cold War.

“As the South China Morning Post reports, ‘The pact will strengthen U.S. political and military leadership in the region,’ which will in turn spur the U.S.-Chinese arms race. That will increase the potential dangers of unanticipated military incidents between the two powers, for example in the geostrategically vital South China Sea. It will also result in the wasting of hundreds of billions of dollars and RMBs that should be devoted to achieving economic security and environmental sustainability for the peoples of both nations and the region.

“This zero-sum approach to U.S.-Chinese relations leads China to respond in kind. To counter TPP, China is pursuing a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and an APEC-based [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation] free trade agreement, both of which would exclude the United States. And in response the U.S. military build-up across the Asia-Pacific China is increasing its military spending and arsenals.

“Tensions between rising and declining powers are inevitable, but they can be transformed and overcome through common/shared security trade and military-related diplomacy. We would do well to learn from history and to pursue win-win diplomacy rather than self-defeating zero-sum challenges.”

See from WikiLeaks: “NSA intercepts EU and French diplomats who strongly criticize U.S. trade policies and call TPP treaty a confrontation against China.”