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Obama's Ill-Advised Asia Strategy

U.S. President Barack Obama with Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. Source: Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama meets Chinese President Xi Jinping.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    As members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit gather this week, the United States and China are butting heads over a new trade agreement, with the Americans pushing for a pact that would exclude Asia’s largest economy while the Chinese favor an agreement that includes all nations including America.

  • Facts


    • The differences in the two trade pacts can be seen as a struggle for influence in the region.
    • The U.S. has lost influence in the region since the heady days of the 1990s, when it offered both military protection and economic opportunities to Pacific Asian countries.
    • President Obama’s latest strategy move in negotiating a free trade agreement is going to upset China.
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Do you know what FTAAP and TPP stand for? Two world powers, China and the United States, are fighting over these acronyms.

Ostensibly, it’s about free trade. In reality, it’s about influence in the Asia-Pacific region, about waging a war without weapons. This assures a tense mood when President Barack Obama and the Chinese state and party leader Xi Jinping meet today when 21 Pacific rim country leaders gather for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing.

China favors the FTAAP, or the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific. The United States wants TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. While the Beijing variation consists of all APEC members, including the United States, the Americans prefer a smaller version with only 11 members — excluding China.

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