TPP snub not a serious setback for China

I agree with Mr Lu Ding that China's exclusion from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) does not necessarily render it the "biggest loser" ("Is China the 'biggest loser' in the TPP deal?"; Oct 13).

Notwithstanding the uncertainty over whether the promised benefits of the TPP will actually manifest, the central conceit of the trade deal - that is, blocking China's attempts to "write the rules of the global economy", according to US President Barack Obama - is deeply flawed ("Obama jabs at China as he defends TPP deal"; Oct 11).

The United States must recognise that it has come late to the proverbial party.

Since the late 1980s, China has been making forays into its neighbours' economies, most recently culminating in its "One Belt, One Road" development initiative.

Economic ties between China and other Asian states have become entrenched, and this momentum is likely to sustain China's ascendancy to regional powerhouse status, rendering the TPP a peripheral obstacle at best.

In contrast, the United States, long preoccupied with European and Middle Eastern affairs, has only recently commenced its reactionary "pivot to Asia". Beyond redeploying military assets and inking perfunctory free trade agreements, on-the-ground presence and influence have been lacking.

Moreover, the snub of the TPP might only serve to embolden China, creating incentive for its government to accelerate economic reforms, restructure state-owned enterprises, enhance domestic trade, and diversify an economy currently reliant on industrial production, all in the name of becoming more competitive and fending off rival trade blocs.

All told, being left out of the TPP is not a serious setback for China. Indeed, the possibility remains that China may join the trade bloc's ranks in the future. It would be a case of history repeating itself.

For the longest time, China was a pariah state, blocked from joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

When the WTO finally welcomed China into its ranks, the delayed entry did not hold the Asian giant back in its meteoric rise to become the world's second-largest economy.

Likewise, a delayed entry, if any, into the TPP might just turn China into the biggest winner.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi