There was perhaps no better occasion to drop a bombshell of international proportions. “China...will favourably consider joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP),” declared Chinese president Xi Jinping via video link at the 27th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting last November.

China was never meant to be included in this international framework. The deal was the economic leg of former US President Barack Obama’s “pivot to Asia”, providing economic prosperity to allies and partners to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), where the latter bankrolled numerous infrastructure projects in developing countries ranging from Sri Lanka to Pakistan. 

The original plan

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