It’s hard to deny that China has become an economic and political power, making the Chinese the most dominant nation in Asia. Many political leaders, including Trump, have noticed that China’s growing power in Asia is weakening the US foothold in that part of the world. It has the second largest economy in the world and has the second largest military budget in the world, which could potentially raise concerns for the current number one placeholder.
In order to combat this perceived threat to the US, the American government created one major roadblock for China’s economic domination of the Pacific; the TPP. The Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP is a trade agreement that was between the US and eleven other nations that border the Pacific. The TPP accounted for 40% of the world’s economy. The partnership was somewhat akin to a Pacific EU, where member countries would grow their economic ties. However in January 2017, President Trump chose to withdraw the US from the TPP, believing that it would protect American workers from competition.
While American critics of the TPP cited that US workers would be subjected to more competition by other TPP countries and that the deal would undermine US power over trade, the TPP had one purpose that should seem far more valuable; containing the growing Chinese power. China was the most notable absence from the TPP roster of countries, which is no mistake considering that the TPP placed a direct cap on China’s power in the Pacific. By decreasing other Asian countries dependence on Chinese trade, the TPP allowed for the US to have continued economic control in Asia. Now as a result of the US pulling out of the TPP, the same Asian countries have entered negotiations on a new trade agreement called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, that includes China.
Because of Trump’s frenzied action of withdrawing the US from the TPP, the US economic foothold in Asia will diminish. Instead, China will fill the power vacuum that Trump is so desperate to keep them out of. The US may be the current world superpower, but with reckless economic decisions and a reinvigorated isolationist/anti-globalization policy, it makes one wonder how much longer that can last.