McCain: Withdrawing From TPP Hands ‘American Leadership In Asia To China’

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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Arizona Sen. John McCain strongly opposed President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The Republican senator argues that withdrawing from the TPP will allow China to take America’s place as the preeminent power in the Asia-Pacific region.

“President Trump’s decision to formally withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a serious mistake that will have lasting consequences for America’s economy and our strategic position in the Asia-Pacific region,” McCain said in a statement.

McCain later tweeted out his concerns, asserting that the “U.S. can’t win if we forfeit opportunity.”

This decision “will create an opening for China to rewrite the economic rules of the road at the expense of American workers. And it will send a troubling signal of American disengagement in the Asia-Pacific region at a time we can least afford it,” McCain argued.

China has already expressed a willingness to play a greater role in international trade and globalization.

“China will not shut its door to the outside world but open it more,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November last year, indicating that China will attempt to play a greater economic role in the region through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Free-Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP).

“Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room,” Xi said last week at Davos in a veiled criticism of Trump’s protectionist policies.

“The front runners have stepped back leaving the place to China,” explained Zhang Jun, director general of the international economics department in the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “If China is required to play that leadership role then China will assume its responsibilities.”

China has long aspired to be the dominant power in the Asia-Pacific, and McCain believes that Trump’s latest move will facilitate China’s ambitions.

“Abandoning TPP is the wrong decision,” McCain concluded.

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