Chinese Model Good for Developing Countries in Spite of West Concerns


SubChina says in its report “Is there a global backlash against China?”, “Author, veteran China journalist, and occasional SupChina contributor John Pomfret writes in the Washington Post that a ‘global backlash is brewing against the People’s Republic of China’ at exactly the same time that Beijing is expressing ‘unprecedented confidence in its economic and political model.’”

It mentions China’s trouble in the US, UK, New Zealand, Taiwan, Australia and EU that are all developed countries and region. Do these countries and region need Chinese model for lifting out of poverty and economic growth? Certainly not. Chinese model offers an alternative to Western democracy for developing countries. Western countries are a minority in the world in terms of population and area of territories. Mr. John Pomfret seems to believe that there are only Western countries in the world other than China.

As China has lifted the large majority of it poor people out of poverty and achieved fast economic growth, it is justified to be self-confident. No one is sure whether China will keep its growth for a long time to come, but at least it has grown rich and strong to be regarded by the US as a competitor. Even if its growth has slowed, China is still financially capable of lifting the remaining 50 million Chinese people out of poverty.

China has good reasons for optimism while the West has nothing to prove that its democracy can enable developing countries to achieve such fast economic growth and lift people out of poverty so quickly.

The four Asian Dragons were not Western democracies when they were achieving fast economic growth. Singapore has never been a Western democracy. Hong Kong grew rich when it was Britain’s colony without democracy while Taiwan and South Korea were both autocracies when they grew rich. They became democracies only after they have grown rich; therefore, they have not been made rich by Western democracy.

Both Chinese and Western systems have their strong points and weakness so that one has to learn from the other’s strong points. China has learnt a lot from Western democracy in industrialization, urbanization, technology, financial management, etc. It is a pity that the West willfully ignores China’s strong points and stresses China’s weaknesses to remain self-confident in spite of being surpassed by China not only in economic growth but also in fighting corruption to prevent officials and rich people from becoming privileged vested interests, providing medical and retirement insurance for almost all the people, lifting almost all people out of poverty, etc.

China is superior to the West in its self-consciousness in keeping on reform to adapt to the changes in situation while Western countries, especially the US, remain conceited about their outdated system in spite of lots of problems such as financial deficit, heavy national debts, poor infrastructures, military inefficiency, etc.

China has set a successful model of socialism with Chinese characteristics for developing countries to learn from.

Western democracy is a good system, but it needs reform for improvement to be commensurate with the changes of situation. Without reform, it problems set poor examples for developing countries.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SubChina’s report, full text of which can be viewed at http://supchina.com/2017/12/20/is-there-a-global-backlash-against-china/?utm_source=SupChina&utm_campaign=7604b7e8dc-20171220-444+GlobalBacklashChina&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_caef3ab334-7604b7e8dc-164862477

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The US Will Soon Lose Australia to China


Reuters says in its report “Australia urges strong, sustained U.S. engagement in Asia, warns on China” today that the pro-US Australian government issued a 115-page long foreign policy white paper requesting more US engagement in Asia to maintain the liberal nature of the world’s “rules-based order”.

The paper admits the economic benefits Australia gains from China’s rising but expresses its fear of rising China’s dominance of Asia.

However, the US pursues isolationism for its own benefits. That is why Trump who advocates isolationism has been elected. Australia’s white paper simply cannot change that. Even Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, the country with the third largest economy, has tried very hard in vain to persuade Trump not to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Obama’s economic arm of his pivot to Asia aimed at containing China.

If Trump focuses on US economy to prevent it from being surpassed by China’s, I would like to regard him as a wise leader. However, even if he wants to do so, he needs the gifts to win support for his policies from the Congress, media and quite a few Americans who fail to see that if US economy keeps on declining under the heavy burdens of maintaining military hegemony in the world, the US will be surpassed by China in both economic and military strength in the foreseeable future. By that time, the pro-US Australians will either be defeated by pro-China Australians in the Parliament or switch to China’s side.

Anyway, if China keeps on rising while the US remains unable to rise, the US is doomed to lose Australia.

The white paper sounds like pro-US Australian politicians’ swan song.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-defence/australia-urges-strong-sustained-u-s-engagement-in-asia-warns-on-china-idUSKBN1DN0C9


The Quad gets together again


Jeremy Goldkorn  November 13, 2017

Will the Trump Administration’s Indo-Pacific dream last?

The Trump administration has resuscitated the term Indo-Pacific — a description that sounds less Chinese than Asia-Pacific. Another old name has been revived: The Quad, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a meeting of officials from India, Japan, Australia, and the U.S., initiated in 2007, accompanied by joint military exercises. The Quad members have not met again as a foursome until this last weekend.

Then as now, China is the unspoken target:

  • The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that senior diplomats from Japan, Australia, India, and the U.S. met in Manila on November 12, and “discussed measures to ensure a free and open international order based on the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific.” All four countries released similar statements, although the Indian version did not explicitly refer to “freedom of navigation.”
  • Indian PM Narendra Modi met Trump in Manila. The White House website says they discussed “their shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” and their resolve to partner to ensure that “the world’s great democracies should also have the world’s greatest militaries.”
  • Trump also met with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, and per the White House on November 13 in Manila, the three leaders “underscored the importance of working together to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

Some views on the Quad:

  • From Beijing, a researcher at the Center for China and Globalization says, “China needs to as soon as possible deal with the Indo-Pacific alliance, as it is absolutely in conflict with Belt and Road,” according to Reuters.
  • Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang 耿爽 said rather diplomatically that “the relevant proposal should be open and inclusive and…avoid politicizing or excluding some relevant parties,”according to The Hindu.
  • Writing in the nationalistic Chinese newspaper Global Times, Geoff Raby — former Australian ambassador and now CEO of a Beijing consulting firm — argues more strongly that joining the Quad “is not in Australia’s national interest”: “Recognizing that Australia is more dependent economically on China than any of the others, and by a big margin, it is curious why Australia would want to join a group that China sees as hostile to its interests.”
  • In India, not everyone is convinced the Quad is a good idea: In The Wire, Manoj Joshi says that given the “intense and almost violent conflict of ideas within the U.S. about who and what America is all about…it would be hazardous to depend on the U.S. for an effective leadership of the coalition needed to balance China.”
  • Former Australian national security adviser Michael Shearer tells a sympathetic history of the Quad, which argues that the “four countries should develop a robust annual exercise program to build interoperability, capability and ultimately deterrence in the region.”

 

Explicit rejection?

Much of the analysis of Trump’s trip to Asia concludes that he leaves behind a region that is uncertain of U.S. commitment to its allies and to global leadership while China rises inexorably under the steely-eyed leadership of Xi Jinping. But the story is more complex:

  • Ely Ratner of the Council on Foreign Relations tweeted: “Way too simple to see U.S. isolation as only big story in Asia this week: Remember the two most important happenings in region — TPP11 and revival of Quad — both explicit rejections of China-led future.”
  • TPP11 refers to a comprehensive trade pact that Trump withdrew from as one of his first presidential acts. The 11 other nations have renewed their commitment to it and renamed it the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP.

Source: SubChina “The Quad gets together again”

Note: This is SubChina’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Indo-Pacific? Not from where China is sitting…


Christian Shepherd, Sanjeev Miglani November 10, 2017

BEIJING/NEW DELHI (Reuters) – As U.S. President Donald Trump and some of America’s democratic allies talk up a vision of “Indo-Pacific” cooperation, China is determined to ensure that the future belongs to “Asia”.

The increasing use of the phrase “Indo-Pacific” by Trump and his team during their marathon Asian jaunt this week, instead of the “Asia-Pacific” term that has long been common in business and diplomacy, is being greeted with thinly-veiled sneers in Beijing.

“Trump choosing to use the term and actually making it happen are two totally different things,” Diao Daming, an American studies expert at Renmin University in Beijing, told a forum on Friday.

“The region is leading global development and Trump wants America to be first, so he could not ignore its existence. He had to say something to the region, so we have ‘Indo-Pacific’. But as yet it’s just a concept and we don’t know what it means.”

Beyond the wordplay lies both concern and scepticism in Beijing at U.S. attempts to complicate China’s strategic domain, particularly by encouraging rival power India to work more closely militarily with Japan. Tokyo recently backed New Delhi during India’s border stand-off with China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying did not dignify “Indo-Pacific” by name in a statement this week, but noted that “this concept has been mentioned many times”.

“We hope that the Asia-Pacific region can become a stable, prosperous and orderly region….where we are capable of managing differences and have the wisdom to resolve the disputes,” she said.

“Indo-Pacific” has grown in usage across diplomatic and security circles in Australia, India and Japan in recent years, shorthand for a broader and democratic-led region in place of the “Asia-Pacific”, which to some places an authoritarian China too firmly at the center.

Trump and his team have given it fresh currency in recent days, starting in Seoul and Tokyo, building on the rhetoric of his secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who last month talked of the need to support a “free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific”.

Describing the Indian and Pacific Oceans as a “single strategic arena”, Tillerson went further as he described India and the United States as “bookends” within that region.

“In concrete terms, it will lead to great co-ordination between the Indian, Japanese and American militaries including maritime domain awareness, anti-submarine warfare, amphibious warfare, and humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and search and rescue,” he said.

STRATEGIC GOALS

Not all allies are convinced, however.

When Trump’s White House issued a statement after the U.S.-South Korea summit on Wednesday describing the alliance as a “linchpin for stability, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific”, South Korea’s presidential Blue House issued a note of caution.

While the phrase “Indo-Pacific” matched some of South Korea’s policies aimed at diversification, “we felt there was more discussion necessary to see whether it is an appropriate term to be used in our efforts toward…joint strategic goals”, the Blue House statement said.

Welcoming the trend is Indian navy Captain Gurpreet Khurana, who was among the first to coin the Indo-Pacific concept in an academic paper back in 2007.

The rise of India as an economic power following its free market reforms and then its gradual military build-up was itself a key factor in the increasing significance of the Indian Ocean, he said.

“India could no longer be excluded from any over-arching reckoning in the Asia-Pacific, be it economic or security related,” said Khurana, of the military-funded National Maritime Foundation.

Chinese officials and experts have long bristled at any perceived attempt to contain a rising China.

But Trump’s Indo-Pacific policy should not be underestimated by China, because India, Japan and Australia are united by being on the wrong side of China’s development strategy for the region, according to Jia Wenshan, an expert on China’s foreign policy at the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization.

“China needs to as soon as possible deal with the Indo-Pacific alliance, as it is absolutely in conflict with Belt and Road,” Jia said, referring to the Chinese president’s signature initiative to re-establish trade and infrastructure ties between China and nations throughout Central and Southeast Asia.

“Behind Indo-Pacific you have Japan’s economic support, India’s development speed and Australia’s fears of China, these are all strategic realities.”

Additional reporting by Greg Torode in Hong Kong and Kim So Young in Seoul; Writing by Greg Torode; Editing by Alex Richardson.

Source: Reuters “Indo-Pacific? Not from where China is sitting…”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


With South China Sea, US Can Do Nothing but Making Some Noise Now


U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson, left, passes by the table of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the start of the 7th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and its dialogue partners as part of the 50th ASEAN Ministerial Meetings in Manila, Philippines August 7, 2017.Aaron Favila/Pool

In spite of some hardline stance by US Congress and military, the US is no longer able to affect the affairs in the South China Sea except making some noise that is disregarded by the parties concerned, ASEAN and China as they have been making progress in concluding their code of conduct in disregard of US stance or opinions. As a result, Reuters shows in its report today titled “Australia, Japan, U.S. call for South China Sea code to be legally binding” how desperate US and its allies Australia and Japan are. They issued a joint statement on what they want to be included in the code but the statement was denounced by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and ignored by ASEAN.

Reuters says that Wang described the “sharp contrast” in perceptions this year between regional and non-regional countries as reflected by the statement by Japan, the United States and Australia.

It quotes Wang as saying that Coastal countries had “fully recognized the progress we have made through concerted efforts from all parties. On the other hand, some non-regional countries remain in the past … They are not recognizing the positive changes occurring in the South China Sea. Is it that some countries do not want to see greater stability in the South China Sea?”

For a time, the US tried to act as a world police to enforce the law of the sea not binding on it as it is not a signatory. It sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to scare China in vain. Now, what it can do is but to make some noise.

The photo on top shows how unhappy US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was at the affairs in the South China Sea. Tillerson once said that the US shall block China’s access to its artificial islands but later realized that the US simply lacks the capabilities to do so.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, which is reblogged below:

Australia, Japan, U.S. call for South China Sea code to be legally binding

Manuel Mogato and Christian Shepherd August 7, 2017 / 4:29 PM

MANILA (Reuters) – Australia, Japan and the United States on Monday urged Southeast Asia and China to ensure that a South China Sea code of conduct they have committed to draw up will be legally binding and said they strongly opposed “coercive unilateral actions”.

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China should establish a set of rules that were “legally binding, meaningful, effective, and consistent with international law”, the foreign ministers of the three countries said in a statement following a meeting in Manila.

Foreign ministers of ASEAN and China on Sunday adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct, a move they hailed as progress but seen by critics as a tactic to buy China time to consolidate its maritime power.

Australia, Japan and the United States also “voiced their strong opposition to coercive unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions”.

They urged claimants to refrain from land reclamation, construction of outposts and militarization of disputed features, a veiled reference to China’s expansion of its defense capability on Mischief, Fiery Cross and Subi reefs in the Spratly archipelago.
The three countries are not claimants but have long been vocal on the issue, arguing their interest is in ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight.

They urged China and the Philippines to abide by last year’s international arbitration ruling, which invalidated China’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea, where more than $3 trillion worth of sea-borne goods passes every year.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have competing claims there.

The code framework is an outline for what China and ASEAN call “consultations” on a formal agreement, which could start later this year.

Several ASEAN countries want the code to be legally binding, enforceable and have a dispute resolution mechanism. But experts say China will not allow that and ASEAN may end up acquiescing to what amounts to a gentlemen’s agreement.

SHARP CONTRAST

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said there was a “sharp contrast” in perceptions this year between regional and non-regional countries, and the statement by Japan, the United States and Australia showed that.

Coastal countries had “fully recognized the progress we have made through concerted efforts from all parties”, he said.

“On the other hand, some non-regional countries remain in the past … They are not recognizing the positive changes occurring in the South China Sea.

“Is it that some countries do not want to see greater stability in the South China Sea?” he asked.

Singapore’s foreign minister, Vivian Balakrishnan, said on Sunday it was premature to conclude the outcome of the negotiations, but added: “Surely when we move into the COC, it has got to have some additional or significant legal effect.”

Jay Batongbacal, an expert on the South China Sea at the University of the Philippines, told news channel ANC the adoption of the framework gave China “the absolute upper hand” in terms of strategy, because it will be able to decide when the negotiating process can start.

China also called out “some countries” who voiced concern over island reclamation in the South China Sea in the joint communique issued by ASEAN members on Sunday.

“In reality it was only one or two country’s foreign ministers who expressed concerns of this kind,” Wang told reporters.

Wang said that China had not carried out reclamation for two years. “At this time, if you ask who is carrying out reclamation, it is definitely not China – perhaps it is the country that brings up the issue that is doing it,” he added.

Several ASEAN diplomats told Reuters that Vietnam was one country that had pushed for stronger wording in the statement. Satellite images have shown that Vietnam has carried out reclamation work in two sites in the disputed seas in recent years.

Additional reporting by Martin Petty; Editing by Nick Macfie and Pritha Sarkar


Despite Border Disputes, India Does Not Want to Upset China


FILE PHOTO: An E-2D Hawkeye plane approaches to the U.S. aircraft carrier John C. Stennis during joint military exercise called Malabar, with the United States, Japan and India participating, off Japan’s southernmost island of Okinawa, Japan June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Nobuhiro Kubo/File Photo

Reuters says in its report “India won’t include Australia in naval drills, fears China backlash”:

Australia formally wrote to the Indian defense ministry in January asking if it could send naval ships to join the July wargames as an observer, in what military experts saw as a step toward eventual full participation.

Four officials from India, Australia and Japan told Reuters India blocked the proposal and suggested that Canberra send officers to watch the exercises in the Bay of Bengal from the decks of the three participating countries’ warships, instead.

True, India worries that it may be encircled by China, Pakistan as well as Central Asia due to China’s growing influence in Central Asia and close ties with Russia, but it has joined China- and Russia-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization for win-win cooperation with China and Pakistan instead of provoking China.

Media exaggerate the recent border standoff between China and India as they need sensational news.

The border incident is in fact very small encounter that will never trigger a war as proved by decades of peace in spite of frequent encounters of such scale.

Anxious to encircle China, the US certainly is trying hard to attract India, but it lacks financial resources. Trump’s policies to bring jobs back to America will first of all deprive Indian elite the well-paid job opportunities in the US.

In addition, US trade policies are increasingly unfavourable to India’s export to the US.

Certainly, encircled by China and Pakistan, India wants US advanced weapons, but US weapons are too expensive. Is the US able to subsidize its weapon export to India to make India afford import of expensive US weapons?

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-navy-exercises-idUSKBN18Q1VD


America First = Giving Up, China First = Assuming World Leadership


U.S. President Donald Trump holds up the executive order on withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership after signing it as White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus stands at his side in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington January 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Donald Trump holds up the executive order on withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership after signing it as White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus stands at his side in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington January 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

FILE PHOTO - U.S. President Barack Obama holds meeting with Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) leaders at the APEC Summit in Lima, Peru November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File photo

FILE PHOTO – U.S. President Barack Obama holds meeting with Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) leaders at the APEC Summit in Lima, Peru November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File photo

Is that a joke that the US abandons TPP on its own and willingly cedes leadership of TPP to China instead of containing China by excluding it from TPP?

Reuters says in its report “After U.S. exit, Asian nations try to save TPP trade deal” today, “Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has touted it (TPP) as an engine of economic reform, as well as a counter-weight to a rising China, which is not a TPP member.”

Now, according to Reuters, “Australia and New Zealand said on Tuesday they hope to salvage the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by encouraging China and other Asian countries to join the trade pact after U.S. President Donald Trump kept a promise to abandon the accord.” No wonder, without Chinese leadership, there are no hopes for such salvage.

Abe is shrewder than leaders of other TPP potential members. As soon as he learnt personally from Trump that Trump would withdraw from TPP, he began to curry favor with Chinese President Xi Jinping and asked him to send Premier Li Keqiang to attend the trilateral talks in Japan to facilitate the establishment of ASEAN plus 3 (Japan, China and South Korea) free trade area.

By scrapping TTP, Trump has given up US economic leadership in Asia Pacific. China, though does not pursue such leadership, willingly accept the gift Trump gives China free of charge.

Trump believes that world economic leadership, especially in Asia through TPP, does not benefit the US as the US has lost lots of jobs to Asian countries. He regards China as the top culprit, but China does not steal jobs from the US. Most goods China exports to the US are made by cheap labor, whose jobs cannot be taken back to the US as no American people are willing to take such low-wage jobs.

Taking jobs from Japan and South Korea is much more practical as wages in Japan and South Korea are comparable to Americans’ and American managers and workers are well capable of doing such jobs.

Japan and South Korea are now major exporters of goods that need the technology China lacks to produce. The US is in good position to take those jobs from Japan and South Korea for export to China as the US has even better technology.

Moreover, Trump will encourage US enterprises to create jobs in the US with tax incentives and simplification of regulations. Japanese, South Korean and other Asian-Pacific countries will have great difficulties to compete with US enterprises in US market. Their exports to the US will suffer greatly.

The US will become increasingly unpopular in those countries. As a result, the US will lose not only its economic leadership but also its military and cultural leadership.

South Korea has already had free trade area with China and is not much interested in TPP while Japan has placed great hope on TPP for revival of its economy.

With the developments described above, Japan has to place great hope on Chinese market. With Japan taking the lead, all other potential TPP members will regard China as their economic leader and China may even become their military and cultural leader when the US has lost its leadership while China has grown even stronger and richer.

Chinese leadership is especially welcome in poor Asian countries as the transfer of Chinese labor-intensive industries will create lots of jobs there; therefore, both the leader China and those Asian countries lead by China will be benefited by China’s leadership.

Interesting, the US wants to take away while China wants to give jobs. Who will be more popular? The answer is obvious.

Trump’s America first means for Asian-Pacific countries that the US gives up its leadership there and in addition takes away jobs and market share from them, a zero-sum consequence.

China’s China first, however, means China assuming leadership there that benefits both China and those countries, a win-win consequence.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which is reblogged below:

After U.S. exit, Asian nations try to save TPP trade deal

By Charlotte Greenfield and Stanley White | WELLINGTON/TOKYO Tue Jan 24, 2017 | 6:36am EST

Australia and New Zealand said on Tuesday they hope to salvage the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by encouraging China and other Asian countries to join the trade pact after U.S. President Donald Trump kept a promise to abandon the accord.

The TPP, which the United States had signed but not ratified, was a pillar of former U.S. President Barack Obama’s policy to pivot to Asia.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has touted it as an engine of economic reform, as well as a counter-weight to a rising China, which is not a TPP member.

Fulfilling a campaign pledge, Trump signed an executive order in the Oval Office on Monday pulling the United States out of the 2015 TPP agreement and distancing the United States from its Asian allies.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he had held discussions with Abe, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong overnight about the possibility of proceeding without the United States.

“Losing the United States from the TPP is a big loss, there is no question about that,” Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday. “But we are not about to walk away … certainly there is potential for China to join the TPP.”

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying did not say directly whether China would be interested in joining the TPP but that at a time of economic uncertainly the Asia-Pacific should make its own contributions to growth with openness.

“We think that in the present situation, no matter what happens, all should keep going down the path of open, inclusive, continuous development, seeking cooperation and win-win,” Hua told a daily news briefing.

Obama had framed the TPP without China in an effort to write Asia’s trade rules before Beijing could, establishing U.S. economic leadership in the region as part of his “pivot to Asia”.

China has proposed a counter pact, the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) and has championed the Southeast Asian-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Hua said efforts on FTAAP should be stepped up, adding China hoped talks on RCEP could be concluded at an early date.

MEETINGS PLANNED

New Zealand’s English said the United States was ceding influence to China and the region’s focus could switch to alternative trade deals.

“We’ve got this RCEP agreement with Southeast Asia, which up until now has been on a bit of a slow burn, but we might find the political will for that to pick up if TPP isn’t going to proceed,” English said.

Malaysia’s trade minister said negotiators from the remaining TPP countries would be in “constant communication” to decide the best way forward.

“Notwithstanding the current position of the new U.S. administration on (TPP), we will continue to engage with our American colleagues to strengthen our bilateral trade and economic relations, given the U.S.’s importance as our third-largest trading partner and a major source of investment,” Mustapa Mohamed said in a statement.

The TTP, which has been five years in the making, requires ratification by at least six countries accounting for 85 percent of the combined gross domestic product of the member nations.

Australia held open the possibility of China, the world’s top exporter, joining a revised deal.

“The original architecture was to enable other countries to join,” Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday.

“Certainly I know that Indonesia has expressed interest and there would be scope for China if we are able to reformulate it.”

Japan has led the push for the partnership, which includes Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam.

“There is no change to our view that free trade is the source of economic growth,” Japanese Economy Minister Nobuteru Ishihara told reporters.

When asked whether Japan would be open to negotiating a bilateral trade pact with the United States, Ishihara said it was uncertain whether U.S. trade officials would start such negotiations.

Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda said separately that Japan was not considering moves with other TPP members based on a lack of U.S. involvement.

“As Prime Minister Abe has made clear, TPP without the United States is meaningless and the balance of interests would crumble,” he told a news conference, adding Japan would keep explaining the benefits of the pact for America.

Abe had made TPP a core of his economic growth policies and along with the Obama administration, viewed it as strategically vital in the face of a rising China

Trump took office on Friday and pledged to end what he called an “American carnage” of rusted factories and crime. He vowed to bring jobs back by renegotiating what he called bad multilateral trade deals in favor of bilateral ones.

New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay said he had talked with a number of TPP-member ministers at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week and he expected they would meet in coming months.

“The agreement still has value as a FTA (Free Trade Agreement) with the other countries involved,” McClay said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Swati Pandey in SYDNEY, Ami Miyazaki and Linda Sieg in TOKYO, Liz Lee in KUALA LUMPUR and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Robert Birsel)