Keith B. Richburg writes: Chinese President Xi Jinping could not have written a better script.
As China begins its 19th Communist Party Congress, with Xi set to be anointed to a second five-year term and cement his uncontested control, the Chinese leader is perfectly poised to look outward and exert global leadership.
He will be doing so precisely as the U.S. is turning inward, its politics appear increasingly dysfunctional, and a new administration, under its “America First” doctrine, is dramatically withdrawing from America’s traditional world leadership role.
Xi can largely thank Donald Trump for his good fortune. The American president began his presidency by withdrawing the U.S. from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. It was an accord largely of America’s making that was aimed at drawing the region closer to the U.S. economically, while potentially luring China to liberalize its economy as the price of entry. With the TPP now languishing, Beijing is pushing to conclude a rival trade pact, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, by the end of this year.
Like the TPP, the rival pact will also comprise about 40% of the world economy. But the RCEP is dominated by China and India, and does not include any of the TPP’s agreements on labor rights, environmental protections or intellectual property rights. [Continue reading…]