CPTPP

Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing delivers a major address on 9 November 2021 at Fullerton Hotel as part of the IISS Fullerton Lectures, a prestigious series of events on regional and global security issues organised by IISS–Asia. (SPH)

Chan Chun Sing: Singapore amid great power rivalry

Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing gave the speech titled "Singapore amid Great Power Rivalry" at the International Institute for Strategic Studies Fullerton Lecture on 9 November 2021. He said countries around the world possess some agency even amid great power competition, and Singapore can work together with like-minded partners to help build a better world. And while the US and China might feel their differences sharply, there could be more common interests between them than they would probably want to acknowledge, as both countries share a single global system and biosphere with the rest of the world. Here is the full transcript of his speech.
US President Joe Biden arrives to speak about American manufacturing and the American workforce after touring the Mack Trucks Lehigh Valley Operations Manufacturing Facility in Macungie, Pennsylvania, US, on 28 July 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

Could China-US trade relations be thawing?

High-level trade and foreign policy officials from the US and China have articulated their views recently on implementing the phase one trade deal and hopes for cooperation amid a state of strategic competition. Will more of such sessions help to chip away at the great wall of mistrust that has been built between the US and China?
US President Joe Biden speaks to reporters before boarding Air Force One to depart Capital Region International Airport in Lansing, Michigan, US, 5 October 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Japanese academic: US moving away from ASEAN centrality to defend its regional interests

With AUKUS and the Quad, Japanese academic Sahashi Ryo argues that the US is seeking to distance itself from the region’s ASEAN-centric mechanisms, despite assurances to the contrary. While both the US and China are working hard to make their presence felt in the region, Ryo says someone is acting out of undue haste and probably needs more time to figure out how to create its desired world order under mounting competition.
Travellers walk past Chinese flags ahead of China's National Day and Golden Week holiday, at Shenzhen Baoan International Airport in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China 30 September 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

CPTPP: How China’s membership could be a win-win

The combined output of members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is about US$13.5 trillion or 14% of global GDP, and will be even larger if China joins. From the economic perspective, there is much for all members to gain with China’s entry, but they would also be wary of certain aspects such as threats to their domestic industries and issues concerning intellectual property standards and regulatory non-tariff barriers. Cai Daolu looks at the reception China will be expecting to get to its CPTPP bid.
Workers produce adhesive tapes for flexible printed circuits (FPC) at a factory in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, China, on 15 September 2021. (STR/AFP)

How can China benefit from the CPTPP?

China has made it clear that it wants to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This will allow it to strengthen its image as an advocate of free trade, gain some cover from future sanctions by the US, and most importantly, spur domestic reform. Academic Gu Qingyang delves into the topic.
(From left) Taro Kono, Fumio Kishida, Sanae Takaichi and Seiko Noda hold papers with their mottos before a debate ahead of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)'s presidential election at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Japan, on 18 September 2021. (Eugene Hoshiko/Bloomberg)

How will the Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election affect Japan's China policy?

With Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga stepping down, whoever wins the Liberal Democratic Party leadership race is practically assured of becoming the next prime minister. But with four experienced politicians on the cards, including two women, who will it be? And how will the choice of the next prime minister affect Japan's policy towards China? Japanese academic Shin Kawashima examines the possibilities.
People walk in Qianmen street in Beijing, China, on 21 September 2021. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Mainland China and Taiwan: The political hot potato of their CPTPP bids

Soon after mainland China put in its official application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Taiwan followed suit. The CPTPP is an agreement forged between 11 members sans the US when the latter withdrew from the then Transnational Pacific Partnership (TPP). Joining it would require tough internal changes from both mainland China or Taiwan. Who is more committed to the needed reforms? But does that even matter when it will be the political signature that counts from here on? Incoming CPTPP chair Singapore will have its work cut out.
A general view shows the Lujiazui financial district (left) in Shanghai, China, on 22 September 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

China joining the CPTPP: It's a matter of time

Zhang Rui analyses that there are more pros than cons to China’s entry to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) whether one looks at it from China’s individual economy, regional industrial chains or global income gains. However, sizeable obstacles stand in the way of its entry, not least US-led political roadblocks, even if the latter is not currently a member of the reconfigured CPTPP. China’s internal system and regulations will also have to change to meet the rigours of the high-standard CPTPP. Can China play the long game and will the world truly move closer towards Asia-Pacific economic integration?
This photograph taken on 8 June 2021 shows a street vendor walking past narrow residential houses, known as "nha ong" in Vietnamese or "tube houses", in an urban area of Hanoi. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP)

Vietnam needs to do more to reduce trade dependence on China

Vietnam’s trade deficit with China has grown rapidly since 2001, and its heavy dependence on Chinese intermediate and capital goods creates vulnerabilities in its entire production chain. Besides, China has a history of using trade as a weapon to punish countries with which it has disputes. To reduce its trade dependence on Beijing, Vietnam has signed a number of new-generation free trade agreements (FTAs) in recent years, but these efforts have not produced desired outcomes. Vietnam will need to increase the utilisation rate of these agreements and push forward economic and institutional reforms to strengthen its overall economic resilience.