Great Ironies of History #23,453: Supporters of China's Entry to WTO Now Argue for TPP as Bulwark Against China

January 13, 2017

As the protectionist supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) desperately try to regroup, it’s entertaining to see how they think that China-bashing is their best hope for success. (Yes, supporters of the TPP are protectionist. A major thrust of the deal is to impose longer and stronger patent and copyright and related protections on the member countries. These are by definition forms of protectionism, even if economists and reporters tend to like them.)

Anyhow, we got an example of the China bashing of a TPP supporter in a Washington Post column by Fareed Zakaria, in which he warned readers that China would be the main beneficiary from a decision by Donald Trump not to pursue the TPP as president. The economists at the Peterson Institute for International Economics are also among those making the argument for the TPP as an obstacle to China’s growing political strength in the region. Many of these same people argued vociferously for allowing China to enter the WTO in 2000 without imposing conditions like respect for human rights or labor rights, which may have fundamentally altered China’s path of political development. It is striking that they now think the U.S. public should now be concerned about the growing power of a country with little respect for these rights.

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