Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 14, 2020

The Huge New Trade Deal 'Western' Media Do Not Like To Talk About

Tomorrow a new trade agreement between 15 Asian states will be signed. It will soon be seen as a milestone in the global economic history. But only very few 'western' media have taken note of it or of the huge consequences the new agreement will have.

The agreement is also a huge victory for China over U.S. hegemony in Asia:

Fifteen Asia-Pacific nations including China and Japan plan to sign the world’s biggest free trade deal this weekend. The FTA will cut tariffs, strengthen supply chains with common rules of origin, and codify new e-commerce rules.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is expected to be announced at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, which Vietnam is hosting virtually. It will involve the ten member states of the ASEAN bloc – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – as well as their trade partners Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea.

The new economic bloc will thus represent around a third of the world’s gross domestic product and population.

It will become the first-ever free trade agreement to include China, Japan, and South Korea – Asia’s first, second and fourth-largest economies.

The economies of the RCEP members are growing faster than the rest of the world. The agreement is likely to accelerate their growth.


India is the only country that was invited but is missing in the deal. Its Hindu-fascist Modi regime had bet on the U.S. led anti-Chinese QUAD initiative pressed for by Trump and Pompeo and thereby lost out in trade terms:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks at the 17th ASEAN-India Summit on November 12 makes sad reading. It comes in the specific context of the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [RCEP] on Sunday — the mega free trade agreement centred on the ASEAN plus China, Japan and South Korea.

Modi avoided mentioning RCEP, although it signifies a joyful occasion in ASEAN’s life as much as Diwali is for an Indian. He instead took detours — ‘Make in India’, ‘Act East Policy’, ‘Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative’, ‘ASEAN centrality’.
To be sure, RCEP heralds the dawn of a new post-Covid regional supply chain. As a new RCEP supply chain takes shape, India has not only excluded itself but is unwittingly facilitating its “arch enemy” China to become the principal driver of growth in the Asia-Pacific.

On the other hand, extra-regional economic ties cease to be a priority for the ASEAN, in relative importance. There isn’t going to be any takers in the Asia-Pacific region for even a partial US-China “decoupling”. The RCEP is in reality an ASEAN-led initiative, which is built on the foundation of the six ASEAN+1 FTAs and it secures ASEAN’s position at the heart of regional economic institutions.

The U.S. Pivot to Asia, launched under the Obama administration, as well as the anti-Chinese 'decoupling' initiatives by the Trump administration have thereby failed.

One would have expected that such a gigantic trade agreement with its extensive geopolitical consequences would find some echo in the U.S. media. But a search for 'RCEP' on the site of the New York Times finds only one mention from 2017. It is about a letter five U.S. ambassadors had sent to warn of the demise of the Transpacific Trade Agreement, an Obama initiative that excluded China:

The partnership, called the TPP, was a hallmark of the Obama administration. It would have been one of the largest trade agreements in history, covering about 40 percent of the world’s economy and setting new terms and standards for trade for the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations. China was not included but would have been able to join.
In their letter, the ambassadors warn that “walking away from TPP may be seen by future generations as the moment America chose to cede leadership to others in this part of the world and accept a diminished role.”

“Such an outcome would be cause for celebration among those who favor ‘Asia for the Asians’ and state capitalism,” it added.

The Ambassadors were right. But domestic U.S. policies (and resistance to 'liberalization' from Asian countries) did not allow for such an agreement to happen:

The 2016 presidential race was shaped by anti-globalization trends. Donald J. Trump promised to destroy the pact if he became president. Hillary Clinton also denounced it, even though she supported a form of it as secretary of state.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said after the election in November that Congress would not take it up. That meant it was dead.

The RCEP is less controversial in Asia than the U.S. centric TPP would have been:

Unlike the TPP, or Trans-Pacific Partnership, and other U.S.-led trade deals, the RCEP doesn’t require its members to take steps to liberalize their economies and protect labor rights, environmental standards and intellectual property. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has called it a “very low-grade treaty” that lacks the scope of the TPP. But RCEP’s imminent implementation illustrates America’s diminished clout and could make it harder for U.S. businesses to compete in the vast region.

While it has less regulations and 'liberalization' requirements than the U.S. had wanted to sneak into the TTP deal the RCEP is still comprehensive enough to have huge effects:

Malaysian Trade Minister Azmin Ali, who told reporters the deal would be signed on Sunday, called it the culmination of “eight years of negotiating with blood, sweat and tears.”

First proposed in 2011, RCEP will eliminate as much as 90 percent of the tariffs on imports between its signatories within 20 years, and the deal will come into effect by early as next year. It will also establish common rules for e-commerce, trade, and intellectual property.

“China has pulled off a diplomatic coup in dragging RCEP over the line,” Shaun Roache, Asia-Pacific chief economist at S&P Global Ratings, told Bloomberg. “While RCEP is shallow, at least compared to TPP, it is broad, covering many economies and goods, and this is a rarity in these more protectionist times.”

Asian countries will now preferably trade with other Asian countries and every non-Asian country will have to trade with them on only secondary terms.

Yet a news search finds that the upcoming RCEP signing only got a short mention on CNBC, one Bloomberg explainer and a short Reuters piece.

It seems that U.S. media are unhappy to report on such an immense victory for China and the demise of the U.S. position in the world.

Posted by b on November 14, 2020 at 17:21 UTC | Permalink

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B - heard a bit about this trade deal this morning on, you know, the Beeb World Service and then a smaller hint on NPR - well, of course. It ain't TPP, is it?

I really, truly hope this deal works out for all the countries concerned: they are the regional countries, peoples, cultures, societies. WE ARE NOT. The South East Asian countries need, most definitely to be free of the shackles of western dominance, whoever of the UK/US/FR etc wields the whip. It is their region, their part of the world - NOT ours.

Posted by: Anne | Nov 14 2020 17:32 utc | 1

Well, this is just the final hint that 2020 will go down in history as the moment when Asia (at least East Asia) took over the mantle of global leadership and became once again the place of most prosperous part of the world.
Though the West shouldn't freak out. First, Europe wasn't in a bad spot during the centuries when other centres were just as wealthy and advanced, or even more advanced - unless lunatics want to claim we had it awful and we weren't able to produce great art and intellectual achievements, when Athens, Rome or the Renaissance peaked. Then, it's quite possible to achieve a kind of multi-polar world with multiple prosperous spheres that aren't into open conflict with each other, but rather into some kind of cooperation.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Nov 14 2020 17:37 utc | 2

It's true that the powers that be in the U.S. will not like the trade deal, but the American working class is not missing out on anything.

The economic value of international trade is questionable. Most countries, other than small islands, would be better off pursuing self-sufficiency.

B, how 'bout an update on the epidemic in Germany. Your country seemed to be doing well for a while but, like most of the West, seems to have lost the plot. I would like to hear your perspective on what Germany is doing wrong and what it should have done differently.

Posted by: Dan Lynch | Nov 14 2020 17:46 utc | 3

@1 Anne

Great post. I agree completely.

The only way through this mess is for the east to be the east and the west be the west.

The world will be a much better place the more regions can exist without the need for stepping outside their own.

If China spearheaded this, kudos to them.

The whole point of the antiglobalist movement is regional diversity and localized control.

I hope China realize the mistakes made by the globalists in their attempt to consolidate power towards unipolarity.

If China is the usherer of multi-polarity as a historical movement in perpetuity, then they truly can be called a great global beacon in the effort to destroy globalism.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Nov 14 2020 17:50 utc | 4

NemesisCalling @4 - So, so true. And my Ta to you! (As an English person of northern background - Ta is our common form of Thank you. And that's just a hint at the Yorkshire dialect....)

Posted by: Anne | Nov 14 2020 17:56 utc | 5

And NemesisCalling - How could, indeed, really, Should it be otherwise? The Hubris, Arrogance of the USA (and UK) that They should dictate how, what, Asian nations, countries, peoples act, accept, go along with...Incredible, but again, not the western (especially Anglo-sphere) ruling elite mindset operates...

So - my mental fingers are crossed (and toes). We - in the west - need to be seriously, deeply reminded that our (so called) civilization (ho ho) is but at the level of kindergarten by comparison with the real civilizations of Asia (and West Asia).

Posted by: Anne | Nov 14 2020 18:02 utc | 6

The TPP was never going to work out. I remember when it was discussed, the American MSM stating it was being fast-tracked, that Obama would pass it etc. etc. But the truth was that the negotiations froze when Vietnam and Japan begun ask for "exceptions to the rule", i.e. certain sectors they knew they would be quickly dominated by the other they wanted to keep the tariffs.

Rule of the thumb is this: free trade zones between too divergent economies are doomed to fail. Just see the example of the Mercosur.

I don't think 2020 will be a hallmark year for the return of Asia. If we observe the world growth rates from half-century ago, we can clearly see that, since 1990, only Asia has truly grown (even if we exclude China - which is not capitalist - from the picture). The illusion Asia has not grown comes from Japan, which is essentially a Western Democracy and thus part of the Global North, therefore not a true Asian economy. Japan has been in pure stagnation and recession since that same year. The world is clearly Asian since the 1990s - it just took a little bit of time for the Western peoples to realize that on their skin (historical latency).

Another interesting aspect to take into account is that, contrary to Europe and Latin America, ASEAN always had a history of bilateralism and pragmatism in relation to the USA. Even nations built upon blatant anti-communism like Indonesia have always adopted a foreign policy of "using one superpower against the other to achieve true neutrality". That's why the USA wasn't able, for example, to throw Vietnam against China on the SCS imbroglio.

Last but not least, there's simply the objective reality: wealth is in China. The ASEAN economy that wants to prosper will have to give full priority to China. And the fact that China is right over there makes everything all the more natural and obvious.

Russia will have a decision to make: right now, for security and historical reasons, it gives full priority to its relations with Germany (its biggest importer). If it truly wants to consolidate itself as an Eurasian nation, it will have to give the due part of its attention and investments to Asia, China specially. Russia will only be able to ignore its Asian frontier for so long. What will Putin and his successors do?

Posted by: vk | Nov 14 2020 18:04 utc | 7

Trump lost Asia? He is indeed a stable genius. But seriously, yes enough of this pre-apocalyptic, post-colonial entitlement and exceptionalism.

Posted by: gottlieb | Nov 14 2020 18:07 utc | 8

some reactions:

1. Seems like RCEP lays the groundwork for regional integration without the WTO, should it be necessary. This may be the case, if the US continues to sabotage the WTO, which would be driven by the US losing WTO judgments to do with the many "strategic" unilateral actions.

2. Besides India, Taiwan is also not participating - although like China, it already had bilateral free trade agreements with some RCEP countries, such as Taiwan-Japan or Taiwan-Korea, despite lacking formal diplomatic relations.

3. Another way to look at it is an attempt to construct an economic bloc to compete with EU, which is not entirely crazy if we take China, Japan, Korea, and ASEAN all together. To actually do this would involve integration of finance, requiring the most daunting compromises for the more powerful nations. But the tempting benefit is equivalent to the one in EU - namely to put a barrier in place to stop repeating a history of brutal conflict.

4. Lastly, as with the TPP, the details are murky, and the commercial motivations are suspect. The first issue with all of these FTA's is that they shift power away from national governments, in favor of international capital, and the second is that the wealthier participants get to have all kinds of exemptions, and can afford to exit the treaties or threaten to do so.

Posted by: ptb | Nov 14 2020 18:16 utc | 9

Oh and looking way ahead, if EU policy eventually transforms to a more protectionist stance (in response to more and more competitive exports from multiple Asian countries), the significance of regional trade blocs like RCEP could really come into its own. The US is the #3 player in this game.

Posted by: ptb | Nov 14 2020 18:26 utc | 10

I respond to two parts of B's comment,
First, Unlike the TPP, and other U.S.-led trade deals, the RCEP doesn’t require
1. its members to take steps to liberalize their economies and
2. (to) protect labor rights,
3. (to establish and meet) environmental standards and
4. to comply with intellectual property.
<=The fact that RCEP d/n require intellectual property compliance will help those in
west who are against monopoly capitalism, the people in the west want competitive capitalism
the USA is against that kind of capitalism. The copyright and patent cops are going to be
very disappointed.

2nd U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has called [the RCEP]
1. a “very low-grade treaty” that
2. lacks the scope of the TPP.
3. (which) could make it harder for U.S. businesses to compete in the vast region.

Hey Wilbur the low grade of it makes it great for open competition ..

The ASEAN countries need, to be free of the shackles of western dominance, whoever of the
UK/US/FR etc wields the whip. It is their region, their part of the world - NOT ours. by: Anne @ 1
<= that freedom may help American business to avoid the shackles of USA monopoly protectionism that
blocks domestic corporations from competing domestically against monopoly powered
international corporations doing business in local communities.

Clueless Joe @ 2 says: it's quite possible to achieve a kind of multi-polar world with multiple prosperous spheres that aren't into open conflict with each other, but rather into some kind of cooperation. <=that true iff there is no military backed monopoly power to stop competition. Take away monopoly powers made by rule of law.(copyright and patents) and watch the entire world come together as one.

Dan Lynch @ 3 says: The economic value of international trade [to Americans] is questionable. <= boy do I agree with that.

Posted by: snake | Nov 14 2020 18:34 utc | 11

I really, truly hope this deal works out for all the countries concerned: they are the regional countries, peoples, cultures, societies. WE ARE NOT. The South East Asian countries need, most definitely to be free of the shackles of western dominance, whoever of the UK/US/FR etc wields the whip. It is their region, their part of the world - NOT ours.
Posted by: Anne | Nov 14 2020 17:32 | 1

Indeed Anne! And congratulations to everyone in Asia. Well done.

Posted by: David G Horsman | Nov 14 2020 18:37 utc | 12

Kudos to the ASEAN and to the RCEP countries. The world needs more constructive and cooperative developments like this rather than the US/Western approach of relentless divide-and-conquer subversion and destabilization in pursuit of hegemony.

Along with the US, Canada, under our current Freeland-Trudeau regime's policies, is another TPP-signatory not participating in this.

Side thought: What does the RCEP mean in terms of China's apparent recent bans or sanctions on trade with Australia?

Posted by: Canadian Cents | Nov 14 2020 18:38 utc | 13

Globalisation has proven to be disastrous for many countries as companies leave in search of low wages to boost profits and competitivity in a race to the bottom.

It therefore makes sense for a country like India which already suffers from a trade deficit with ASEAN to not join a free trade agreement which would simply worsen the already existing trade deficit:

But a big concern for India was that it would be flooded by goods from China and elsewhere. India already has a massive trade deficit with China, amounting to $53 billion (€48 billion). It's the biggest deficit India has with any country.
PM Modi raised the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping when both leaders recently held talks in the southern Indian resort town of Mahabalipuram, south of Chennai.
Some sectors of the Indian economy, like the pharma and IT industries, have found it tough to enter and expand in the Chinese market. Despite India repeatedly calling on China to ease barriers, Beijing hasn't taken any substantive measures.

Why India pulled out of the RCEP free trade deal

Posted by: Down South | Nov 14 2020 18:40 utc | 14

The dismissive attitude towards the RCEP isn`t entirely unfounded. Tariffs between WTO members are low anyway, the economic effects of so called Non-tariff barriers to trade are much bigger. Non-tariff barriers to trade are precisely what the TPP would have included and what the RCEP doesn`t: environmental standards, security standards, intellectual property rights etc. etc. If the RCEP lowers tarifs by 90% but leaves these issues asides then it means that it lowers 90% of very little. On the other hand, that`s probably also the reason why an aggreement could be reached that quickly or even at all.

The economic effects will be limited but it´s deplomatic effects are huge. That`s a big win for China and Asia - and I think for the rest of the world, too

Posted by: m | Nov 14 2020 19:01 utc | 15

Down South @ 14:

A major reason that India pulled out of the RCEP must be that the Modi government and private firms in the country have not invested enough or much at all in improving Indian education (primary, secondary and tertiary) or in its infrastructures that would enable industry and agriculture to compete with exports from RCEP signatory nations at home and abroad.

Before the pandemic hit, a large proportion of international atudents attending Australian universities and colleges came from India. Many of these students came from families who scrimped and pooled their life savings to send these young people to Australia. They got another kick in the teeth by having to work in low-paid jobs on top of studying and to find accommodation in poor areas, where they are at risk from attacks by unemployed people who resent them for taking jobs away, because the universities and colleges the students attend often do not supply or fund student accommodation.

The DW article you link to alludes to the poor state of India's economy: agriculture is still mostly subsistence-based and Indian farmers are still working at a low level of technology, which implies that whatever investments in agriculture the government has made have ignored the needs of farmers and their communities; and major industries such as iron and steel are dominated still by family firms relying on govt protectionist policies - implying that such industries have wasted govt largesse by not investing the money in new technologies, research or upskilling their workforces. One occasionally hears of obscene levels of wealth and spending by a small elite living in cities like Mumbai and Poona, not far from Mumbai in Maharashtra state, or the lavish wedding expenses of middle class families (sometimes fed by matchmaking reality TV shows), while most Indians still continue to live in poverty and squalor.

Posted by: Jen | Nov 14 2020 19:31 utc | 16

The TPP would have flung the door wide open for corporate theft of taxpayer wealth and the commons in general through the use of patents and intellectual property leverage. Key parts of its language were written, and held, in forceful secrecy by corporations. The productive sector of the US dodged a bullet when Trump pulled out of that one, for whatever the reasons.

I'm glad the RCEP is "shallow", not going as deep as environmental and intellectual property regulations. Those two things alone are huge, and deserve their separate agreements, and even different entities perhaps - look how tangled and stagnant the EU has become by trying to incorporate total "depth" of regulation across its membership.

What the agreement will do is harmonize trade regulations, including e-commerce. This is what such an agreement is supposed to do. Unifying the regulations of trading will only encourage and increase trading.

As noted by the analysts b quotes, RCEP may be shallow, but it's broad. Having 15 nations in a trade agreement that is not deep enough to harm individual sovereignty, but which is wide enough to offer a community framework that eases trading, introduces a new mycelium-like network for Asia. Much will come from it.

And just as it is pointless to assess the warmaking capacity of China in western terms or by comparison with western metrics - since China fights and wins war according to different principles and protocols - it is equally inaccurate to judge the weight of this collaboration in terms of crunchable dollar numbers today. Much prosperity, and more cooperation in other fields, will grow from this new creative venture among the nations, and it won't all be measurable by western metrics, but it will be real enough to offer new standards for the crumbling west to aspire to emulate.

Well done China.

Posted by: Grieved | Nov 14 2020 19:32 utc | 17

It's been 80 years now, but the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" is now emergent, but not quite as originally envisioned by the 30s Japanese Empire

Posted by: erik | Nov 14 2020 19:34 utc | 18

As I'm typing on my smartphone I can't link to The Conversation website which has a September 2019 article stating that there are no provisions for investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) procedures in the RCEP. This means that corporations cannot try to abuse such procedures to sue governments in secret tribunals packed with corporate lawyers of their own choosing because they disagree with the laws in the jurisdictions of the governments being sued. (Classic example of such abuse was Phillip Morris suing Australia in a Hong Kong law court for requiring cigarettes to be packaged in plain brown paper to protect young people from false advertising. The corporation actually lost the case.) This may be another reason the RCEP was signed quickly and why US news media have ignored it.

Posted by: Jen | Nov 14 2020 19:54 utc | 19

I am impressed to see Australia signing on to this. My God, isn't Australia one of the five eyes. That has to be one major anti-Russian, anti=Chinese coalition. Is it possible that Australia is beginning to stray from its masters control?

Perhaps there are some Aussies here that might help us understand how they have achieved even this level of independence from US control?

Posted by: ToivoS | Nov 14 2020 19:55 utc | 20

Grieved @ 17, this IS the TPP --- only without all the roadblocks and regimentation that the US was insisting upon. The countries simply went ahead or, you might say they quietly kept what was good about the deal, and all the objectionable parts were shunted aside.

When folk were worrying that Biden might reinstate TPP I almost spoke up and said this was in the works -- so something good came out of those years --folk discovered what they DIDN'T want and were able in difficult times to charge on with the deal.

Happy to see New Zealand on the map -- it's often left off!

Posted by: juliania | Nov 14 2020 19:56 utc | 21

vk #7

Russia has not ignored its eastern frontier. There is an immense effort by Russia in that region to develop trade in energy, upgrade tranport corridors etc. Have you heard of the OBOR?

Russia pays attention to all neighbours, to assert otherwise is ridiculous.

Germany is important to Russia interms of it being safer to have it 'inside the tent rather than outside'. The German and other Western Europe armies have a bad reputation in Russia. Ignore them at your peril.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Nov 14 2020 19:59 utc | 22

Hi ToivoS,

If you look at Australian media, you will have seen over the last year a consistent propaganda drive regarding "the need to contain Chinese aggression".

Meanwhile, Australia is still sending its ships up to the South China Sea for "freedom of whatever" exercises, and loudly pushing a us-led investigation into how China started the virus or something.
Recently, China has been inspecting Australian imports for longer than usual. Some seafood rotted on the dock while being inspected for a few days, and chinese firms are importing less Australian goods recently. Naturally, this is framed in the media as more "completely unwarranted Chinese aggression that Australia should definitely stand up to and not be pushed around by".

Australian politicians learned the lesson in 1975 that you don't go against the US openly or you get regime-changed - there is three-party consensus on that.

Against that, there is a considerable push from industry (which stands to lose exports to Australia's largest trade partner) and ex-politicians who argue that it is in Australia's interests to stop being America's bitch and have good relationships with trade partners.

Its surprising that Australia signed on to this trade agreement, but a good sign that perhaps there is some common sense prevailing.

Posted by: Deltaeus | Nov 14 2020 20:26 utc | 23

Nice post b, in drawing attention to this historical event. The fact that western media are not talking about it is actually a good thing in my point of view. Doing so would only rouse angsts and fears in the minds of the 'chosen race'. Angsts and fears in the minds of the 'chosen race' would breed desperation, anger, hostility, and violence, the kind of psychology that leads to big wars. It is a race thing, let's not pretend otherwise. It is likely the same psychology that led Putin/Russian to not embrace RCEP, as implied in the last question posted at vk@7.

Yes, ignorance is bliss indeed, sometimes.

Posted by: Oriental Voice | Nov 14 2020 20:59 utc | 24

@ Posted by: Jen | Nov 14 2020 19:54 utc | 19

"Suddenly, the world’s biggest trade agreement won’t allow corporations to sue governments" September 16, 2019 The Conversation

Posted by: suzan | Nov 14 2020 21:00 utc | 25

The EU started out as the European Coal and Steel Community. I suspect that over time the RCEP will evolve considerably.
Also, let's not forget the UK which will soon be out there looking for trade agreements once it finally leaves the EU. It's unlikely to have an agreement with the EU, and US with Biden as president will probably only ink a trade treaty with UK if the UK regime doesn't shit on Irelands interests. So of the major trading blocks that leaves Asia which will be tied up with RCEP for the next few years. O shit.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Nov 14 2020 21:31 utc | 26

Global Times files this report:

"The RCEP sends out the message that Asian countries do not want to choose sides between the US and China.

"More significantly, they are not willing to blindly follow the US and exclude China, the biggest and most vibrant Asian economy, from the region's integration process. A sound and healthy economic community in Asia cannot be achieved without China's participation. Of course, the concept of open regionalism embraced by China also welcomes America's participation in this cause.

"RCEP's rise was initially an ASEAN response to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a mega free trade agreement dominated by the US since it joined the negotiations in 2008. TPP membership included some Asian countries, but excluded many others. Most significantly, it excluded China, the world's second-largest economy and the largest trading partner of almost all Asian economies.

"The TPP was also an alarm to ASEAN because, before the TPP, Asian economic integration was driven and led by ASEAN, the largest regional organization in Asia. The TPP would divide Asia, slow down Asia's own economic integration process, and marginalize ASEAN.

"Against that backdrop, Asian economies launched RECP negotiations in 2012, under the leadership of ASEAN and with the enthusiastic support from China and other Asian economies. To some extent, RCEP reflects Asian countries' will to take the matter of regional economic integration in their own hands. Though they all welcome US input in the process, they are not inclined to see TPP-centric encirclement of China....

"[T]he RCEP represents the failure of the Trump administration's attempted encirclement of China in western Pacific. [My Emphasis]

What follows is an analysis of how policy might be altered by Biden, while the main goal will remain:

"[T]he US government, be it controlled by the Republicans or Democrats, is expected to alter the China-centred [sic] global supply chain and bring the gravity of the global production networks back to the US and its allies."

And the unlikelihood of the above gaining traction. The author thinks a rival supply chain will arise in North America, but I seriously doubt that will occur since the Outlaw US Empire has far too many domestic problems--civil and material--that require solving before capitalists will bother trying. Being ignored is the critical condition of the USA's Human Capital that must be solved before its large deficit in Material Capital can be addressed. Neoliberal Parasites have done an excellent job of hollowing out the ability of the USA's Industrial Capitalism to function and for the whole system to be competitive globally.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 14 2020 21:31 utc | 27

My barometer since 2001 has been if the media harps on something in unison then the Empire wants something to happen to their benefit and if it ignores something then 500 year old Anglo European empire has lost another one.

The Philippines was very smart to pull away from the US and it has been decades long effort for them. They know what is coming and they do not want to get caught in the middle of it like they did in WWII. I am surprised to see Japan and South Korea join without US approval as they have long been carrying water for the US.

Trade is one thing but if their banking system is threatened by China, Russia and others I see war as inevitable.

Posted by: circumspect | Nov 14 2020 21:41 utc | 28

Before the monkey gallery applaud and hoot too hysterically, consider the consequnenxes for Russia (and the China alliance), Europe and the EurAsia project, if USA and Canada worm their way into the bloc, even if it is on the RCEP bloc's terms and not on the TPP/Pivot's. This scenario is not quite so inconceivable as at first one may suppose. A weakening USA economy, persisting close ties between USA and at least a few of the RCEP states (Viet Nam, e.g. has been strengthening rapidly recently; Japan, despite everything in recent years remains under USA _control_ in many spheres), a more conciliatory attitude by the Biden regime towards China than the Trump's (along with a harder line against Russia), and so on. Not to mention, a convenient bridgehead in the form of 5-eye Oz. All in all, a convenient trojan horse for a rogue USA thwarted in its more overt attempts.

Posted by: petra | Nov 14 2020 21:43 utc | 29

RCEP also Ties into the Belt and Road, also hard to find talk about in Western media:

Posted by: B | Nov 14 2020 21:46 utc | 30

@ petra... Oh yes, AND Great Britain, as Ghostship reminds us. Prowling around, looking for trade agreements, which may conceivably provide breaking-and-entering (again, Thank you, Commonwealth Brother, Oz).

Posted by: petra | Nov 14 2020 21:48 utc | 31

My wife and I were chuckling yesterday at the complete silence on the trade deal in the US while continuing to focus on partisan political issues as the theatre of the 2020 elections continues. It is inherently American to miss the big picture while focusing on WWF-style pro wrestling charades in the mass media. And neither one of the bi-partisan War parties have any idea how to slow the economic momentum of China--and even if they had a notion they're unwilling to make the huge investments in industry, education, and infrastructure that China has made to benefit its economy. The rentier class doesn't see the value in investing, only in pillaging the commoners through financial capitalism in pursuit of further inequity.

Posted by: worldblee | Nov 14 2020 22:13 utc | 32

The US favors military aggression over economic cooperation, whereas China takes the opposite view and guess which country succeeds -- China
. . .from a RAND report:
The United States and China have different strengths and approaches to competition
> Regional countries view the United States as having more diplomatic and military influence than China, and China as having more economic influence.
> Southeast Asian countries rank economic development over security concerns and are generally more worried about Chinese economic influence than Chinese military threats.
> China can leverage its economic influence for a variety of goals, including to weaken U.S. military influence. In contrast, there is no evidence that Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries believe that U.S. military influence serves as a counterweight against Chinese economic influence.
> Regional countries have more shared interests with the United States, but Beijing has more tools it is willing to use against Southeast Asia, including more incentives ("carrots") and coercive capacity ("sticks").
> Regional countries prefer to not choose between the United States or China and may not side with the United States if forced to pick. Partner alignment is likely to be weak and incomplete. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 14 2020 22:15 utc | 33

According to the "Ha Noi Declaration on the Fifteenth Anniversary of the East Asia Summit', the head-of-state of the Outlaw US Empire "met via videoconference on 14 November 2020, under Viet Nam’s 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship, on the occasion of the 15th Anniversary of the East Asia Summit" and

"DO HEREBY DECLARE on the fifteenth anniversary of the East Asia Summit:....

"2. To reaffirm the East Asia Summit’s strong commitment to multilateralism founded on the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and based on international law, which are the indispensable foundation of a more peaceful and prosperous world;" [Emphasis Original]

Wow! Trump agreed to abide by the UN Charter and international law--things he's been breaking since his first day in office. And there's a whole lot more in that Declaration. My question: Did Trump actually attend the videoconference? Putin attended as here's his address to the group, his theme being the need for further unity:

"I believe the build-up of economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region will also be enhanced by further development of various integration projects. We are confident that regional and subregional associations, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Eurasian Economic Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, can interact in the interests of the entire region by harmoniously and effectively complementing each other.

"This week’s summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation chaired by Russia adopted a joint statement by the leaders approving the idea of aligning integration efforts and Russia-proposed initiative on establishing the Greater Eurasian Partnership as a single, broad and open space of security and mutually beneficial economic and humanitarian cooperation."

It takes time to organize such unification, but it's going to occur, and likely before 2030. If India doesn't wise-up soon and oust Modi, it's going to be left far behind developmentally.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 14 2020 22:23 utc | 34

>US allies Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea are now in this new FTA with China as its leader.
>This will be Japan’s first free trade agreement with China and South Korea.
>India, suffering greatly from COVID-19, decided not to join RCEP. There was US diplomatic pressure, with India pressured to inviting Australia to join in a naval exercise tied to the Quad dialogue (US, Japan, Australia, India). With the US playing up the China-India minor border issue, the US and India signed a defense agreement as India was making this diplomatic blunder to back out of RCEP.
>Even without India, RCEP will cover more than 2.2 billion people, or 30 per cent of the world population, a total gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $25.6 trillion (29.3 per cent of world GDP) and trade value of more than $10.4 trillion (27.4 per cent of global trade).
>The RCEP is expected to greatly benefit China, South Korea and Japan in terms of GDP growth, as well as overall growth in the area.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 14 2020 22:36 utc | 35

Humanity is in a civilization war and this trade deal is one of the new fronts of the war.

I continue to disagree that war always has to be about blowing shit up. The canard that Trump hasn't started any wars is contextual ignorance. How many wars did Trump take over from Obama? How many people has Trump killed in his 4 years versus other 4 year presidential stints? I would also argue that since Obama lost Syria to the Russians, the US has been on the back foot of aggression....lots of attempts but no cigar/war

Tariffs are acts of war

Sanctions are acts of war

Weaponizing finance is an act of war

Since empire has been blow-up-shit war stymied, they have ramped up other types of aggression and (s)elected a bully to push the Western meme for the past 4 years.

It is nice to see the West failing to stop countries for cooperating economically in a structure not created/blessed by Western empire. Now if we can just keep them from blowing us all up because their egos are butt hurt.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 14 2020 22:41 utc | 36

psychohistorian @36--

Agreed, that's why Pepe Escobar uses the term Hybrid War/Warfare, for they are forms of War, just not "Traditional" War.

Did you catch the preview read link to the newly published Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy? If not, it's here.

The latest head of the Pentagon Christopher Miller has sent a letter to all his employees part of which was reported here:

"As we prepare for the future, we remain committed to finishing the war that Al Qaida brought to our shores in 2001. This war isn't over. We are on the verge of defeating Al Qaida and its associates, but we must avoid our past strategic error of failing to see the fight through to the finish....

"'We met the challenge; we gave it our all. Now, it's time to come home,' the letter read."

Hmmm... If it's "time to come home," it sure sounds like it's been seen "through to the finish." Although, perhaps our terrorists have moved elsewhere, so it's now time to come home from where we were illegally, rest, refit, and go somewhere else and illegally continue our War OF Terror. Nigeria perhaps.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 14 2020 23:12 utc | 37

Great report thanks.

It is the forming of another side of the coffin for the Ancient Anglo Imperialists and it’s leftover European precursors.
Of which the US has been the lead for the last hundred years and was setup 200 years ago to be - by the same Pathocracy that has had its way for centuries.

The EU has matured and survived to set the model of escape from that US led hegemony.

The lid goes on the zombie empire when the EU/SCO and the various sub groups that have Russia /China centered alliances, treaties, trade outside of $ and BIS and the various crony institutions WB/IMF - make the BIG DEAL.

Within a generation maybe much less - the walking dead Ancients will be buried finally. Along with the remnants of the British Empire.
Modi - has shown his true colours, as Imran Khan will be forced to - they are as much creatures of the Ancients as any who were reared to represent their interests.

And no, this time - the Ancients can’t have a war against the resisting rising power. This time such an escapade hits them in their own homes and islands and super yachts and estates by hypersonic ballistics targeted to take them out, if they really try to send death to make an offer which cannot be refused!

It is a beautiful thing.

The rancid old Empire is dead dead dead.

Long live the New Empire - lord knows we have suffered a millennia for it to rise.

Posted by: DG | Nov 14 2020 23:20 utc | 38

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 14 2020 22:41 utc | 36

I would say that tariffs are a legitimate position of a state, although it could break some treaties. The type of sanctions that USA engages in, especially when Trump put that activity on steroids, is indeed a traditional casus belli that started a number of wars in the past.

Finally, it is a staggering failure of European states (without Russia and few others) to meekly cooperate with American financial sanctions. EU has mechanism for retaliation, penalties on cooperating companies, penalties on companies of the aggressive state etc., but had chosen to "join the fun". I guess that Trump, threatening practically every state at some point, convinced Japan and Australia to join Asian trade deal. I am not sure if it is a good deal for India which is less oriented on export of goods and more on services (at least what I see), Modi is not necessarily crazy. OTOH, like Erdogan, his expertise in economics is so-so -- it could be better.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Nov 14 2020 23:24 utc | 39

TASS has this small item about a Russian media article asking why Russia wasn't included in the RCEP. IMO, Russia isn't included because it wasn't involved in the initial negotiating process. I've already supplied Putin's address to the East Asian Summit which signals his intent to join all these various organizational blocs into one overall bloc. However, the question is valid and deserves an answer.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 14 2020 23:28 utc | 40

@ Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 14 2020 23:28 utc | 40

My guess is that Japan imposed it to China as a condition for its participation. They had already done it in the expansion of ASEAN before, so I think the same applies to the RCEP.

Posted by: vk | Nov 14 2020 23:42 utc | 41

Where do you get Germany is Russia's biggest importer? Have you not been paying attention?
It's difficult to know where your coming from sometimes, to put it politely.

Posted by: che palle | Nov 14 2020 23:49 utc | 42

thanks b... good post. and observation on western media not covering this... good commentary here from everyone as well.. thank you..

it seems to me the differences between TPP and RCEP are really interesting and worth exploring more...
"Unlike the TPP, or Trans-Pacific Partnership, and other U.S.-led trade deals, the RCEP doesn’t require its members to take steps to liberalize their economies and protect labor rights, environmental standards and intellectual property." as @ Jen | Nov 14 2020 19:54 utc | 19 pointed out - i am curious.. how much of these agreements are an attempt on the part of corporations to sue countries that they aren't able to rape and pillage?? it seems that is some of it...

but regarding labor rights, and environmental standards - these are things i am in favour of.. do i think they need to be tied into economic agreements? i think it is a good idea, so where do i have this wrong??? as for intellectual property, i mostly think of this as a ruse that also favours certain corporations and countries over others... call me naive, but that is how i see that... like some others up above, i question the value of these trade deals.. it seems like the little guy always gets screwed and globalization only favours corporations... but maybe it is western corps wanting the upper hand over eastern corporations?? is that it?? it might be... i am just ruminating here and i welcome anyone's thoughts on any of this... at some point labor rights and environmental standards have to matter on a finite planet that is suffering from over consumption and the misuse of its resources... i am sure i will be told this is all western over consumption, but it seems it is only a matter of time before it is over consumption all over the planet and not just limited to the west.. it isn't sustainable... i say all this being neither pro west or pro china or any of this bipartisanship stuff which i read between the lines of some of the commentary here..

Posted by: james | Nov 15 2020 0:23 utc | 43

OT but you gotta be kidding me the news that Israel kills Al Qaeda's #2 man in Tehran has information warfare, hero narrative written all over it. I am dying to see someone in the honest media group, Johnstone, MoA, Pillar, Grayzone, ... write about it. This type of toxic villainizing of Iran is not going to end well, especially if it is not true (that's were my money is)

Of course, FOX has been reporting on it all day, NYT broke the story from a 'senior (anonymous) official'.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Nov 15 2020 0:37 utc | 44

"India is the only country that was invited but is missing in the deal." India is the only country that recently lost two dozen soldiers' lives plus territory to the PLA.

"Its Hindu-fascist Modi regime": in that case, how do you label the Xi Jinping regime?

Soon all Germany's car industry etc. will move to PR China and the CCP will be West's dealer for Green machinery while the Chinese will continue their huge coal consumption. Those statistics don't lie but they are simply ignored. Stuff won't be cheap any more, but that is the price for being sheep that allow monopolies.

Posted by: Antonym | Nov 15 2020 1:26 utc | 45

ToivoS @ 20:

ScottyFromMarketing Morrison understands that his party's election war chests are funded by mining companies exporting iron ore to China and agribusinesses that sell wheat and rice to Southeast Asian nations. Even our defence and intel establishments have to understand that without those customers, we'd be as poor as India and the US would care as much about us as it would a speck of dust.

Posted by: Jen | Nov 15 2020 1:35 utc | 46

Ultimately, moving deck chairs on the Titanic---

But the view will be better for a while, just don't look closely.

Not that humanity elsewhere will be better.

Posted by: Duncan Idaho | Nov 15 2020 1:57 utc | 47

Suzan @ 25:

Thanks muchly 4 posting the link 2 The Conversation article. 😀

James @ 43:

Originally provisions such as ISDS procedures were incorporated into trade agreements in the past to protect Western companies from corrupt and/or bullying behaviour by governments in countries where they traded. As often happens though, the context changes and now provisions in trade agreements or international originally intended to protect individuals, communities or organisations against corrupt governments are being used by large corporations to abuse governments and to force those governments into striking down legislation that protects their own people or ecosystems from corporate abuse, as in the Phillip Morris example I mentioned.

Inserting labour rights and environmental protections always has to be seen in a broader context: what is the intention of those govts that insist on inserting such protections and do such protections actually benefit labour and the environment in the country of the govt that wants them or are those protections just a veneer for protecting certain inefficient industries from foreign competition? Foreign competition such as, let us say, clean or renewable energy against local energy made from fossil fuels, or foreign products made in automated factories against local versions made with child labour?

Posted by: Jen | Nov 15 2020 2:00 utc | 48

Yawn... China naively screwed the pooch with the RCEP by letting Uncle Scam get his nose under the tent via his stooges in Australia, Japan, and New Zealand.

Posted by: Boogity | Nov 15 2020 2:52 utc | 49

@ CC # 44
OT but you gotta be kidding me the news that Israel kills Al Qaeda's #2 man in Tehran has information warfare, hero narrative written all over it
Al Qaeda #2 is a dangerous job--
...Now: Al Qaeda’s No. 2, Accused in US Embassy Attacks, Secretly Killed in Iran in 2012--CNN -- drone strike -- CNN's Barbara Starr reports on the U.S. drone strike that killed al Qaeda's number 2 leader, Abu Yahya al-Libi. in 2015--abcnews -- The Death of Al Qaeda’s No. 2: The ‘Charismatic,’ Deadly Nasir al-Wahishi. . . in 2017--redofreeeurope -- Al-Qaeda Confirms No. 2 Leader Killed In U.S. Drone Strike--Al-Qaeda confirmed on March 2 that a U.S.-led coalition drone strike killed its No. 2 leader, Abu al-Khayr al-Masri, in Syria. . .h/t chinahand

And of course we know that AQ #1, OBL, was non-secretly killed and disposed of at sea. Sure. The US never had anything on Osama binLaden, including 9/11. but it was a great (propaganda) victory to do him.
PS: The previous statement got me banned at SST.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 15 2020 3:09 utc | 50

The media doesn't carry it because . . .

..from moa, Sep 22, 2020
The End Of The 'Rules Based International Order'
In a speech in honor of the UN's 75th anniversary China's President Xi Jinping emphasized law based multilateralism:
China firmly supports the United Nations' central role in global affairs and opposes any country acting like boss of the world, President Xi Jinping said on Monday.
"No country has the right to dominate global affairs, control the destiny of others or keep advantages in development all to itself," Xi said.
Noting that the UN must stand firm for justice, Xi said that mutual respect and equality among all countries, big or small, is the foremost principle of the UN Charter.
No country should be allowed to do whatever it likes and be the hegemon or bully, Xi said. "Unilateralism is a dead end," he said. ...
International laws should not be distorted or used as a pretext to undermine other countries' legitimate rights and interests or world peace and stability, he added.

. . .and from Rand
Understanding the Current International Order

Since 1945, the United States has pursued its global interests by building and maintaining various alliances, economic institutions, security organizations, political and liberal norms, and other tools — often collectively referred to as the international order. . .The primary reason that we and others are focusing attention on the international order today is because it is perceived to be at risk — and, by extension, U.S. interests served by the order might also be at risk. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 15 2020 3:23 utc | 51

- Anyone who still has some critical thinking skills left knows the US and its influence in the rest of the world is on downward trajectory. On top of that I don't think that the (predominantly financial) situation of China is any better.
- I repeat something I have said more than once before: The US (Empire) will end up in the gutter and there it will meet its eternal rival called China. Although I think the (economic) prospects of South East Asia are (much) better (relative) than the prospects for China.

Posted by: Willy2 | Nov 15 2020 4:00 utc | 52

@ Don Bacon | Nov 15 2020 3:23 utc | 51 with the Rand link....gag!

I made it about a third of the way through the eighty some pages of global private finance obfuscation of reality masked as news speak liberal and rules based order BS

People make a lot of money cranking out this obfuscation of economic/financial aggression. They make it sound like there might even be some moral base behind it other than faith words like freedom and democracy. And when that didn't work in the tome they claimed it was just oh so complex....

I keep asking those supporters of the democracy concept in the West how does democracy exist when global private bankers control the social contract....can we vote on whether finance should be private or a public utility?

So much brainwashing and so little time......

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 15 2020 4:06 utc | 53

re Boogity # 49 who out of ignorance proclaimed: "China naively screwed the pooch with the RCEP by letting Uncle Scam get his nose under the tent via his stooges in Australia, Japan, and New Zealand."

Both Aotearoa & Australia have existing free trade agreements with China The 2008 agreement between Aotearoa & China was the first free trade agreement that China signed with a 'developed' (read whitefella governed) nation. It has worked well with few of the issues that Australia has had with its China free trade agreement, but even that has presented few problems because China has been adept at using other means to remonstrate with Oz whenever the Oz government gets too mouthy for its own good. Health & biologic regulations are the current preferred method, because no matter how many restrictions on trade are lifted biosecurity can always be invoked by any nation. Over the past few weeks since the dingbat who claims to currently 'lead' Oz got too mouthy, China has carefully selected targets in Oz regions most sensitive to disruption. Grain shipments and even crayfish have been held up for close inspection, causing delays which make the particular shipment unsaleable. Primary producers in Oz are screaming and as much as the media tries to paint it as being China's fault, Australian producers have made it very plain to their government that it is the Oz government who they are holding responsible.

This will quietly go away with Morrison & co being much more circumspect about China in future.

When I saw b's comment about the dearth of articles on the RCEP I took a look at the kiwi media. Most fishwraps had stories about the deal but just like this one most articles concentrated on the fact that India was not a signatory. Aotearoa already has free trade deals in place with the 14 other states joining the RCEP so India was the one they hoped to jag because there is no existing deal with them and the cow cockies reckon those indian fellas are keen on cows, particularly kiwi dairy products.

I guess in some way RCEP will help standardise 14 different deals, but that is about all.

Oz has put its hat firmly in the usuk insecurity nonsense but Japan like Aotearoa who have been reducing their defence interactions with usuk since the collapse of the South East Asia treaty Organisation (SEATO) back in the early 80's over nuclear warships, have little interest in getting in with usuk too deep.
The politicians in Japan & Aotearoa may like to cuddle up to the crooks of usuk but the voters in both countries loathe that shit and punish pols who want closer ties.

There are traditional sensitivities between Japan & China going back centuries, especially maritime border issues, so Japan will use amerika to help with that but there is a reluctance to get too close in other defence spheres.

Oz is a bit different as too many people there lap up 'yellow peril' yarns so there is not so much pushback. However the inquiry into exactly what war crimes Oz special forces got up to at amerika's behest in Afghanistan, can only assist those advocating to get away from close ties with the empire.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Nov 15 2020 4:27 utc | 54

The gibbering globetrotting genocidal Gujarati gangster government of Narendrabhai Damodardasbhai Modi has kept its wholly owned media totally silent about this. Modi is dressing up in combat uniform making a joke of itself to anyone with two brain cells and threatening China and Pakistan.

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Nov 15 2020 4:44 utc | 55

Reuters has a longer piece up now about the RCEP.

It does not add much except except the following which I find interesting
Despite being outside RCEP and having been in the administration that propelled the TPP, President-elect Joe Biden - Obama’s vice president - is unlikely to rejoin the TPP anytime soon, analysts said, as his government will have to prioritise handling the COVID-19 outbreak at home.
“I’m not sure that there will be much focus on trade generally, including efforts to rejoin” the TPP successor grouping, “for the first year or so because there will be such a focus on COVID relief,” Charles Freeman, senior vice president for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said this month.

Is Wall Street going to wait until the Biden/Harris team take over before pulling the plug on the economy where the Markets are rising but the real economy is into serious metastasis?

Has the concept of the Roaring 20's been reduce to one year in this century?

Being able to blame the Great Reset on a woman would make the patriarchy happy. Is that the purpose of the Harris (s)election?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 15 2020 4:54 utc | 56

Ask the right questions. Get the right answers.

Q1: What does Modi personally gain by not joining RCEP?

Q2: What do one billion Indians lose for not joining RCEP?

Q3: Are India's best interests aligned with Modi's best interests?

Posted by: kiwiklown | Nov 15 2020 5:13 utc | 57

Anne @ 1 -- Yes. Asians should run Asia. And Western civilisation? I think it is a great idea.

NemesisCalling @ 4 -- I agree that the West should let the East be East.

vk @ 7 -- Putin will link his Eurasian belt & road with Xi's Global belt and road. Double helix, anybody?

Grieved @ 17 -- Love your second-last paragraph -- beautiful analysis. Also, your "mycelium-like network". Am thinking truffles.... organic growth.... locally grown (ASEAN, the little tigers that could, drove this thing).... definitely not imposed by the West.

erik @ 18 -- All Asians remember the Japanese version of "co-prosperity", brutally imposed with the bayonet and banana "money".

karlof1 @ 37 -- "time to come home" sounds like the idiot who said, "mission accomplished" on an aircraft carrier and ran home.

Posted by: kiwiklown | Nov 15 2020 5:16 utc | 58

Xinhuanet has the following posting about the emerging ASEAN trade deal

China, ASEAN forge deeper digital economy cooperation

The digital economic aspects are where the real infrastructure will be...see below

In the first 10 months of the year, China-ASEAN bilateral trade volume reached 3.79 trillion yuan (about 571.64 billion U.S. dollars), accounting for 14.6 percent of China's foreign trade, up 7 percent from the same period last year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Meanwhile, with conventional trade surging, China and ASEAN have deepened cooperation in the digital economy, manifesting huge potential to boost market consumption.

In order to foster a bilateral e-commerce industry chain, Guangxi Tus-Innovation Cross Border E-commerce Co., Ltd., headquartered in Nanning, the permanent venue of the China-ASEAN Expo, has cooperated with Alibaba to build Lazada cross-border Eco-Innovation Service Center (Nanning) since 2019.

The center has served more than 30 well-known Chinese companies, incubated over 400 small and medium-sized cross-border online retailers, and trained more than 1,000 e-commerce professionals, according to the company.

"Guangxi is China's gateway to ASEAN. Thanks to cross-border e-commerce platforms, more and more products are being traded online in the region," said Ding Guoxun, general manager of the company.

Zhai Kun, a professor of international studies at Peking University, said that although the pandemic has severely hit the global economy, upgrading internet technology has brought countries virtually closer.

"Digital services, including online cross-border shopping, online education and telemedicine, are more widely used and the consumption patterns of global consumers continue to be innovated with the development of the digital economy," Zhai added.

China's value-added digital economy registered 35.8 trillion yuan in 2019, accounting for 36.2 percent of the country's GDP, up by 1.4 percentage points compared with the previous year, according to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.

This year is designated as the China-ASEAN Year of Digital Economy Cooperation. ASEAN's digital economy is estimated to increase from 1.3 percent of GDP in 2015 to 8.5 percent in 2025, according to Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN.

This is how civilization wars are fought.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 15 2020 5:17 utc | 59

@ ph #53
how does democracy exist ...
Of course it doesn't exist in the US, the word democracy is just a "buzzword" -- a word or phrase, often an item of jargon, that is fashionable at a particular time or in a particular context.
Democracy is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.

But there is no organized system of communicating opinions on governance from the citizens to their representatives, whom we know are bought-and-paid for by their financial supporters, so there is no democracy. None. Our "democracy" is limited to the election of representatives, and not to the decisions they make.
I grew up in a small town in New England, where the town affairs were governed by town meetings, controlled by the town moderator. Moderator: Should the town purchase a new snow plow? All those in favor raise your hands. . .etc. That's democracy, and nationally we don't have anything even close to it. In fact, none at all. We have no way on affecting any decisions made by the congress of "representatives" (of whom?).

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 15 2020 5:20 utc | 60

@ debs #54
Apparently there is disappointment in NZ over India's RCEP non-participation.
India's dairy industry -- the largest in the world -- had expressed apprehension that the RCEP trade pact would severely impact dairy farmers because of cheaper imports from Australia and New Zealand.
New Zealand said it will look forward to a bilateral trade agreement with India in case New Delhi does not join the China-backed mega trade deal RCEP. . .Feb, 2020 -- here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 15 2020 5:36 utc | 61

Besides the RCEP,

1. China, Korea and Japan are negotiating about a trilateral free trade agreement.
2. China and EU are negotiating about the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT).
3. China already has bilateral trade agreements with ASEAN, Korea, new Zealand, etc.

Meanwhile, in US, people still believe trade is bad, and China/the world are cheating on them. Trump is busy quitting international agreements including doing his best to handicapping WTO. So they are still arguing about why Trump did NOT lose the election.

Posted by: d dan | Nov 15 2020 5:36 utc | 62

Anyway Trump march haha

Posted by: Nick | Nov 15 2020 5:42 utc | 63

@ Jen | Nov 15 2020 2:00 utc | 48. thanks jen.. that is my general impression too, but i thought it was worth talking about... often times sweet sounding words are a decoy for the crap that lies below the hood... i guess what it comes down to is that i don't trust the apparent altruistic motives of the west at this point... your viewpoint and questions seem to suggest we look at this aspect of the trade deals in a similar light... cheers..

Posted by: james | Nov 15 2020 5:44 utc | 64

@ Nick | Nov 15 2020 5:42 utc | 63.. similar sized crowds seemed to work for the ongoing cia regime change in belarus , although that has stalled, so maybe not.. i guess it depends on where these events take place, lol..

Posted by: james | Nov 15 2020 5:46 utc | 65

@Boogity | Nov 15 2020 2:52 utc | 49

China naively screwed the pooch with the RCEP by letting Uncle Scam get his nose under the tent via his stooges in Australia, Japan, and New Zealand.

I doubt that RCEP has any secret clauses. With so many countries involved, a secret would be hard to keep in any case. So let the Empire snoop as much as it likes -- there is nothing to hide.

As for US allies sabotaging the trade agreement, that is unlikely. If they become obstreperous, the other RCEP countries will ignore them and carry on. 2.2 billion people can do a lot of ignoring.

Posted by: Cyril | Nov 15 2020 7:55 utc | 66

While it has less regulations and 'liberalization' requirements than the U.S. had wanted to sneak into the TTP deal the RCEP is still comprehensive enough to have huge effects

The real significance and threat of the TPP had essentially nothing to do with trade and free markets per se, but was a threat to the sovereignty of signing countries, and thereby to the sovereign rights of their citizens and their human rights. That sovereignty would have been handed over to mega corporations on a platter allowing them to plunder, pollute and devastate signing countries with a guarantee against protective legislation, curbs or compensation. It is a matter of peoples' rights, not trade.

It is good, and to some extent not surprising, that some of that has apparently been gutted from RCEP; but the real question is whether/how completely has that threat been removed, and what threats remain? Do corporations still have any rights to sue countries for reducing their profits by legislation in the interests of their citizens? Are any citizens rights to lobby for their interests threatened?

Posted by: BM | Nov 15 2020 8:50 utc | 67

psychohistorian @ 59 -- "This is how civilization wars are fought."

Yes. You do not send rude idiots like bolton and pomparse to condescend to the natives. You use attraction, not force, to get others to join you. You offer win-wins, and you deal long term. But of course you can still buy idiots (Modi, anybody?) for a few million USDs, but the window is closing fast, and not just because USDs are devaluing fast, but that the natives see the US con clearer by the day as the fake democracy clown show drags on.

Cyril @ 66 -- "So let the Empire snoop as much as it likes -- there is nothing to hide. As for US allies sabotaging the trade agreement, that is unlikely. If they become obstreperous, the other RCEP countries will ignore them and carry on. 2.2 billion people can do a lot of ignoring."

Good point, Cyril, about how Asians will not play empire games, and that they will just ignore rude noisy idiots and go about the task at hand: making their daily bread, or should I say cooking their daily pot of rice. By projection, the US/West thinks that China must be sneaking trapdoors into agreements just like they do to others. I guess that is another reason why the Russians say the US is not agreement-capable (politese for 'people without honour, integrity, shame').

Posted by: kiwiklown | Nov 15 2020 10:35 utc | 68

Bhadrakumar has a good discussion of India missing the bus on this free trade agreement.

Posted by: sarz | Nov 15 2020 10:46 utc | 69

Well done b. You have attracted comments from grown-ups (at least up to @67). It seems that it's been a while - but I seldom look here these days. Yep - cheering FTAs is certainly only of benefit to the financial capitalist class. I think most of us have already figured out that any benefit from international trade is only more siphoned profits. Does not help the working class if anyone gives a shit anymore.

Posted by: DM | Nov 15 2020 10:47 utc | 70

Without PR China RCEP would have been club of peers: now it will become a CCP open jail.

Posted by: Antonym | Nov 15 2020 11:57 utc | 71

Even "iron brother" and vital link of the Belt& Road Pakistan did not join this RCEP. Maybe Pakistani industrialists want to keep their businesses alive? What was Myanmar thinking?

Posted by: Antonym | Nov 15 2020 12:53 utc | 72

Love the NYTimes. "One of the biggest regional" free trade agreements. It's the biggest in human history, duh. US power declines, its allies drift away and they soft pedal the news.

Posted by: Eighthman | Nov 15 2020 13:02 utc | 73

@ Posted by: Willy2 | Nov 15 2020 4:00 utc | 52

I completely disagree.

Data from the end of the 1980s show the exact opposite scenario is true: China is the solid bastion of East Asia, lifting up SE Asia.

China also has a much more solid and secure financial sector. Who crumbled during the 1997 crisis? Clue is in the name. What's not in the name is the fact that it was China that saved SE Asia from that crisis.

So, not only China has been consistently growing more since the 1990s than SE Asia - it has also be doing so without crises or other downturns, with more emphasis in the real economy.


RCEP will end US hegemony in West Pacific

A little bit premature, but ok - it's rare to see this kind of op-ed in the Global Times.

Posted by: vk | Nov 15 2020 13:41 utc | 74

psychohistorian @59: "This is how civilization wars are fought."

Precisely, but it only seems like a "war" to the side that is losing. The winning side sees it as a brilliant and exciting future full of potential, both immediate and yet undiscovered, unfolding in real time right before their eyes every single day. The winners are not waging war, they are building tomorrow's world using today's dreams as their blueprint. This only seems like confrontation to the losers because those losers are accustomed to dictating the future for the species. The losers feel that it is natural for their own dreams to define humanity's road map to tomorrow, so for humanity to go in a direction they don't specify is very traumatic for those losers. It seems to the losers that their birthright is being taken away by implacable forces.

But the only vision for the future that the West can really claim to offer these days is one of tastelessly bland and beige, lithium and Xanax stabilized uniformity that is purged of even the most infinitesimally tiny "microaggressions" or other stimuli that might disturb the featurelessly ungyrified and smooth brains of the citizenry. This is actually the death of culture, and not just "white" culture (whatever that is), but of every culture that is thrown into the blender.

[Aside: I suppose it is good that there is one place on Earth like that; where all cultures are "mixed up together in a bucket" (thanks Mr. Creosote) and pureed so as to be consumed by the consumer through a feeding tube. I'd prefer the rest of the world to be varied and colorful, though. A world where each region and people cherish and cultivate and guard their differences. A world where people don't have to flee their homes due to poverty caused by imperial wealth extraction; where people don't have to flee the violence of the empire's death squads who facilitate that imperial wealth extraction. A world where as many people as possible can find rewarding and satisfying lives where they are by living and developing the culture of that place. A world where every city, town, and village has its own character, specialties, and charm points that the locals can be proud of and be happy to share with visitors. A world where everyone has the means to leave their city, town, or village to explore the varied colors and scents and tastes of other places, but where most of those who adventure eventually return home because... well, it's home, and without the terrible imbalances caused by capitalism home should always be the best place in the world.]

The above "aside" actually fits more with my next post below, but I'll leave it here.

Posted by: William Gruff | Nov 15 2020 14:40 utc | 75

from Pepe--
Here I am baby, signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours.
The (virtual) RCEP signing: THE ASIAN CENTURY - actually Eurasian, but that's a more complex story - on the march.
I'll have a column tomorrow explaining the top most reason of why this is such a game-changer.
Will celebrate tonight at the impeccable Silk Road restaurant in BKK.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 15 2020 15:33 utc | 76

"But why would the ASEAN countries want China to dominate them rather than America? I don't understand!"

You don't understand because you assume that the western zero-sum, "There can be only one!" relationship between nations is the only one possible. You hear the Chinese speak of win-win relationships but you cannot even comprehend how that could work so you dismiss it is deceitful propaganda.

"Everyone tries to take advantage of and rob others. America does that and we are the bestest, most wonderful, and exceptional people on the planet, so of course everyone else in the world who isn't as perfect as we are will be even more abusive if they get the chance. That's why we have to be World Cop, by the way. We are the only ones in the world who are nice to others."

China could easily send in their marines to rob their neighbors' banks like America does (literal truth: the US has used its military repeatedly to rob banks for real in Latin America... funny how so many Americans memory-hole that fact), but China's efforts to build sustainable win-win relationships with its partners are real. This is apparent locally and is why peoples in that region sign on with China. It will take some time for the win-win nature of these relationships to become undeniable to those of us on the losing side of the "civilizational war". I predict that over the next two decades we will see truly astonishing development in Laos and Cambodia, so much so that those countries will then experience some "back to the village" movements to preserve local cultures (of course with updated infrastructure and modern conveniences). If the West is still butthurt about losing the "civilizational war" at that point (sadly probable) then expect the crappy jingoist mass media to gush "See? They don't want China!". In fact the movements won't be anti-Chinese at all, and might even be led by Chinese people who earlier experienced the same meteoric rise in living standards. Having experienced the same cultural disconnects that such a rapid change causes, they understand the importance of preserving familial roots. The focus of development will then gradually transition from the urban centers to the countrysides, likely in careful and thoughtful ways that enhance the rural and traditional culture rather than replacing it.

China isn't mandating that those signing on to their projects become like China, as America demands of its vassals. That is a rather large difference.

Posted by: William Gruff | Nov 15 2020 15:51 utc | 77

Asia Times Online has a report:

RCEP trade pact heralds dawn of Asian Century

Signing of world's largest free trade agreement creates Asian equivalent of European Union and North American pacts

Posted by: Deskscape | Nov 15 2020 15:57 utc | 78

"The Huge New Trade Deal 'Western' Media Do Not Like To Talk About"

Odd, as this is currently the third most-read article on the BBC news site.

Granted, it should be a bigger headline even than that...

Posted by: Malchik Ralf | Nov 15 2020 17:00 utc | 79

@Antonym | Nov 15 2020 12:53 utc | 72

Even "iron brother" and vital link of the Belt& Road Pakistan did not join this RCEP.

Pakistan's inclusion in RCEP would almost certainly provoke the Indians. I doubt any of the RCEP participants want that.

Maybe Pakistani industrialists want to keep their businesses alive?

Pakistan has had a free trade deal with China since 2006.

What was Myanmar thinking?

Perhaps Myanmar doesn't want to be left behind economically?

Posted by: Cyril | Nov 15 2020 18:19 utc | 80

@Vk (nr. 72):

Nope. The debt to GDP ratio is in China much higher than in the US. And this assumes that the official chinese GDP numbers are not overstated. In 2008 US consumption fell off a cliff and with it the US Trade Deficit shrank to say 30, 40% of what it was in 2006. Less US imports meant that chinese exports fell of a cliff as well. And US imports after 2008 never went back to the 2006 level. China only recovered as a result of a GIANT credit/debt expansion.

When I look at all countries that participate in the RCEP then there are more countries that are not "in the best of financial shapes". Besides China, South Korea (had a housing boom between 2008 - 2020 and is now in the 1st stages of a housing bust), Japan, Australia, New Zealand are also on "shaky financial legs". The only countries that are in a (fairly) decent financial shape are the countries in South East Asia. In some asian the demographic composition of the population is outright horrible. Then the following countries come to mind: China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan.

A LOT OF people "don't like" the US but fail to see the "weak spots" in the economic/demographic "fabric" of other countries in the Far East.

Posted by: Willy2 | Nov 15 2020 18:33 utc | 81

William Gruff @75--

Much of it's a Vision thing. I visited Disneyland for the first time in 1964 at the age of 8 and was awed by Tomorrowland; and since most of our extended family lived in Southern California, I had the opportunity of visiting Disneyland almost annually. The last time I went was in 1991 when I took my daughter for her first visit, and Tomorrowland was no longer awesome. It was downright boring--there was no more Vision. Indeed, the Vision disappeared after Apollo and Skylab. Only later did I realize the timing coincided with the changeover to hardcore Neoliberalism. The only Vision coming from DC was inventive ways to cover up CIA Death Squads and spin what was called the Savings & Loan Crisis where Greenspan legalized fraudulent banking/financial practices whose outcomes now haunt us. Yes, Vision was still there but employed to conceal Imperial Criminality. And so it is today. Vision is employed to manipulate the political-economic process on a massive scale so it doesn't benefit We The People--the recent election is a result of such Vision. The Tomorrowland Vision of my youth still exists, but it's moved West across the Pacific Ocean and settled in Eurasia. Recall that Freidman citation provided by Zhang, paraphrased: The Future exists today in China, the past in the USA.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 15 2020 18:42 utc | 82

Willy2 @81--

Cooked GDP numbers are the provenance of the Outlaw US Empire, where Real GDP's been shrinking since 1990, not growing as lied about constantly.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 15 2020 18:44 utc | 83

- Agree. A LOT OF countries are "cooking the books" when it comes to the GDP. But the situation (think: GDP) in China is worse than in other countries.

Posted by: Willy2 | Nov 15 2020 18:49 utc | 84

RE: "What was Myanmar thinking?"
-Posted by: Antonym | Nov 15 2020 12:53 utc | 72

Myanmar/Burma shares border w/ China and has long history of bilateral trade w/China. So why not Burma join the RCEP?

Posted by: gm | Nov 15 2020 19:30 utc | 85

@kiwiklown | Nov 15 2020 10:35 utc | 68

Good point, Cyril, about how Asians will not play empire games, and that they will just ignore rude noisy idiots and go about the task at hand


Posted by: Cyril | Nov 15 2020 19:35 utc | 86

@Antonym | Nov 15 2020 12:53 utc | 72

Even "iron brother" and vital link of the Belt& Road Pakistan did not join this RCEP. .... What was Myanmar thinking?

I want to add that Myanmar is Muslim. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei are also Islamic RCEP countries. So the fact that Pakistan is not (yet) in RCEP is certainly not because of its religion.

Posted by: Cyril | Nov 15 2020 19:49 utc | 87

karlof1 @82

The death of vision in America in the mid 1970s was a very painful thing to go though. I have held out hope ever since that America could become visionary again, but all of the visions since have just been weird delusional hallucinations that could never possibly go anywhere.

You are right that the optimism and enthusiasm, no, lust for the future has moved east. The Chinese are not petty, though, and will let us tag along despite America's bad attitude.

Posted by: William Gruff | Nov 15 2020 19:50 utc | 88

gm @85

Myanmar is a member of RCEP.

Posted by: William Gruff | Nov 15 2020 19:53 utc | 89

@Posted by: William Gruff | Nov 15 2020 19:53 utc | 89

I saw that from b's map--hence my question to Antonym...

Posted by: gm | Nov 15 2020 20:09 utc | 90

Yet a news search finds that the upcoming RCEP signing only got a short mention on CNBC, one Bloomberg explainer and a short Reuters piece.

It seems that U.S. media are unhappy to report on such an immense victory for China and the demise of the U.S. position in the world.

Admittedly it's late in the day but Yahoo had these reports on it:

Posted by: foolisholdman | Nov 15 2020 20:27 utc | 91

err...perhaps my ambiguously worded question to Antonym..

Posted by: gm | Nov 15 2020 20:32 utc | 92

I think the thing which will really upset the US about this pact is that it includes not only most of Chinas immediate neighbours but also, Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. (Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Pompeo!)

Posted by: foolisholdman | Nov 15 2020 20:39 utc | 93

@Willy2 | Nov 15 2020 18:33 utc | 81

The debt to GDP ratio is in China much higher than in the US.

China's foreign debt, about $2 trillion, is a small fraction of the country's GDP; this debt is what China owes other countries. China's internal debt -- what it owes itself -- is nearly irrelevant globally, just another accounting number.

So when you hear alarming stories that China's debt is 300% of its GDP, or whatever, just remember that nearly all of that enormous number is internal debt, for which China doesn't have to pay other countries.

In contrast, the US's foreign debt is about $21 trillion, about 100% of its GDP. The US is in far worse financial condition than China.

Posted by: Cyril | Nov 15 2020 20:49 utc | 94

Cyril | Nov 15 2020 19:49 utc | 87

I want to add that Myanmar is Muslim

Well, now you can subtract it, 'cause Myanmar is at about 90% Buddhist.

Got any other disinformation for us?

Posted by: john | Nov 15 2020 21:03 utc | 95

@psychohistorian | Nov 15 2020 5:17 utc | 59

[about RCEP's emerging digital economy]

I just had a thought. Could "digital economy" include China's alternative to SWIFT, the current international payments system? The RCEP countries constitute roughly a third of global trade; if all of it goes through China's system (CIPS) instead of SWIFT, that would deal a serious blow to the US dollar's reign as the reserve currency.

Posted by: Cyril | Nov 15 2020 21:10 utc | 96

Thanks for the information. Here in Australia the deal is utterly unknown!

Makes me begrudgingly happy that no matter their rhetoric, our ridiculous local ‘ruling class’ think only with their pockets when it comes to the crunch.

Posted by: Rae | Nov 15 2020 21:12 utc | 97

@ Posted by: Willy2 | Nov 15 2020 18:33 utc | 81

Most of China's debt is contained within China, and mainly involve Chinese state-owned enterprises (regional and central). If you take out this debt - over which the rest of the world has absolutely no control - China's debt is more like 75% of its GDP if memory doesn't fail me. Very manageable.

SE Asia did collapse financially in 1997. This is not my imagination. If your financial system collapses before the financial system of your neighbor, then chances are your financial system is weaker than your neighbors. Best case scenario, you have the same problem than your neighbor, on a magnified scale.

There are economists who foresee a financial crisis in China. The theories vary, but most of them revolve around a combination of the Middle Income Trap theory, land speculation bubble burst, and overheating of the manufacturing sector (overconsumption theory). Sincerely, I don't discard there is a theoretical possibility of a financial crisis happening in China; the problem I have is that those economists who are theorizing over it are coming with pedestrian theories. Kid's stuff.

Whatever the debate happening over China's financial sector, one thing seems to be very clear: it is happening on a much more scientific and sophisticated form within China (CCP) than in the West. The West is not the intellectual center of humanity anymore.

Posted by: vk | Nov 15 2020 21:24 utc | 98

Christian Chuba | Nov 15 2020 0:37 utc | 44

Yeah! I read this as Fake News, too. For a start it is slandering/libeling Iran as "Pro Al Qaeida".(Which it ain't!) Then it is portraying Mossad as "heroic" and "Anti Al Qaeida" (Which it ain't!) Thirdly, it is pretending that the Empire is at war with Al Qaeida. (Which it ain't and never really was!).

Posted by: foolisholdman | Nov 15 2020 21:48 utc | 99

Antonym | Nov 15 2020 1:26 utc | 45

"India is the only country that was invited but is missing in the deal." India is the only country that recently lost two dozen soldiers' lives plus territory to the PLA.

"Its Hindu-fascist Modi regime": in that case, how do you label the Xi Jinping regime?

As Modi admitted in talking about the fight that killed the Indian soldiers when he said that "No one come over our border" the aggression was Indian. One indian soldier was quoted as saying that the Indians had snuck up on the Chinese encampment and set fire to their tents "As a joke!"
What advantage to the Chinese was there in having a dust-up there at that time? The LAC had been quiet for decades. Modi otoh was in the midst of an election campaign.

"Its Hindu-fascist Modi regime": in that case, how do you label the Xi Jinping regime?

No matter how you label it, the Chinese Government has made an incomparably better job of looking after its population wrt Covid-19 than the Modi government has. Come to that, how is the effort to abolish extreme poverty coming along in India?

Posted by: foolisholdman | Nov 15 2020 22:03 utc | 100

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