China to push ahead with RCEP talks following TPP setbacks

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China is seeking to accelerate progress on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership after the future of the US-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership was thrown into doubt.

China is placing a renewed emphasis on bringing its Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations to a successful conclusion following the recent setbacks experienced by the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Ministers from China will be resuming talks with their counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Indonesia in the coming days to try and accelerate the progress of the RCEP agreement, which would liberalize trade between many of Asia's most economically important countries.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said leaders "hope that such negotiations can achieve early results".

RCEP is a broad-ranging free trade agreement (FTA) involving the ten ASEAN nations - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - plus China and five other countries with which ASEAN has existing FTAs, namely Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

The Chinese government is hoping to strategically capitalize on the apparent collapse of TPP, the US-backed trade deal signed last year to open up trade links between America and 11 other nations, many of which are also involved in the RCEP talks.

One of the key policy accomplishments of outgoing US president Barack Obama's administration, the TPP has been vehemently opposed by his successor Donald Trump, who pledged this week to pull the US out of the deal on his first day of office, thereby casting doubt on the entire future of the agreement.

As such, China now has an opportunity to strengthen its own diplomatic and economic influence within Asia, potentially at the expense of the US.

Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang has also confirmed that China's commitment to multilateral or bilateral trade remains undiminished despite recent developments in the US.

The Asian superpower has pledged to work closely with other World Trade Organization members to foster "freer and more convenient" global trade regardless of the fates of the RCEP and TPP deals, according to Mr Shen.