U.S. President Joe Biden may find it difficult to gather Asian “swing states” into a coalition against China, a political analyst told CNBC.
Part of that challenge stems from Biden’s promise to rebuild the American middle class — which could hamper efforts to push economic and trade policies that Asian countries would sign up to, said James Crabtree, a professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.
“What the U.S. has done traditionally is, it’s tried to use both its security and economic power to entice allies into its camp. So for instance, it set up the original TPP trade agreement,” Crabtree told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Friday.
TPP refers to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade pact negotiated by former President Barack Obama and 11 other countries — most of them in Asia-Pacific, which excludes China.
The reality is that America’s economic weight is declining, China’s is increasing. And China is also doing a pretty good job of stealing America’s clothes as the protector of free trade in the region.
The deal in its original form would have been the world’s largest trade agreement, covering nearly 40% of the global economy. It would have enhanced the strategic role of the U.S. in Asia-Pacific, and counter-balance China’s growing political and economic clout in the region.
But the agreement was widely criticized in the U.S. and never approved by Congress. Detractors — which include former President