China’s state-run Global Times on Tuesday expected the prospective Biden administration to have more of an appetite for “multilateralism” than President Donald Trump, but lamented a skeptical American electorate and divided Congress will keep Biden from seeing things completely Beijing’s way.
“Based on domestic political considerations, Biden administration will be more hesitant to participate in free trade pacts like the CPTPP. Furthermore, to stabilize his administration, [former Vice President Joe] Biden might take measures similar to those of US President Donald Trump — by not joining any multilateral trade deals. This is totally possible,” the Chinese Communist paper predicted.
CPTPP is the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, essentially the remnant of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) after the United States decided not to join under Trump.
The Global Times obliquely acknowledged that TPP was very controversial in Democrat circles as well by anticipating that “even if Biden prefers being part of the multilateral mechanism in the Asia Pacific, his voters, especially those from the Rust Belt states, could constrain his efforts.”
The Global Times nevertheless heaped blame on Trump for supposedly convincing “quite a lot of Americans of different classes that multilateral mechanisms like the TPP or CPTPP is harmful to the U.S.” and shoring up opposition to globalism. This will “limit Biden’s flexibility in maneuvering to join multilateral mechanisms.”
After wishing for an American electorate that would let Biden indulge his multilateralist instincts, the Global Times turned around and celebrated the America-free Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the huge China-dominated Asia-Pacific free trade pact that was finalized last week.
As it has done several times before, the Chinese paper applauded RCEP as the death knell for American “hegemony,” approvingly quoting the New York Times’ judgment that RCEP “shows the rest of the world will not wait around for the U.S.”
This time the Global Times went even further and implied Americans will have to choose between accepting Chinese leadership over the new century or stewing in isolationist squalor:
This zero-sum mentality actually shows that many U.S. elites cannot be integrated with ordinary American people — they are highly divided. Mainstream American outlets like the NYT cannot represent what the majority of Americans are thinking about.
Washington wants to lead the world in global trade and security, but simultaneously it is reluctant to assume responsibilities in the process of jointly building them right now. Consequently, as other countries continue to cooperate with world trends, the US is sitting aside. No country should be blamed for not inviting the U.S. into multilateral mechanisms. The US alone is to blame for its severe domestic problems and divisions. It has put itself into isolation. It is the one who holds itself back from embracing and benefiting from globalization and multilateralism that the rest of the world is partaking in.
“If this situation continues, the U.S.’ international influence is bound to decline. This is for sure,” the Global Times concluded.