Who Makes Policy Campaign 2016 Edition

Is the TPP and most trade deals stand-alone issues? Should they be?

For many labor unions,  defeating the TPP and electing politicians sworn to oppose it is the paramount objective of this election cycle. The TPP has also alienated individuals that are normally allies of free trade. The TPP is a flawed agreement at best with few outspoken supporters outside of the administration and some big business interests. So why is Obama still pushing hard for this agreement? The TPP is part of a much bigger strategy to deal with a resurgent China. The Obama administration recognizes that Isis and terrorism are not existential threats to the U.S., but that the growing influence of China with the second largest economy in the world could be. The president is not alone in this idea. The former head of the CIA and NSA, general Michael Hayden, agrees with this view. He believes that the preoccupation with terrorism has blinded the U.S. to a potential future threat. The facts are that China has been increasing it’s diplomatic activities within neighboring regions.  China has also begun to increase its military spending to boost its ability to project its military power. With every move, China has grown more confident as they demonstrated when they created artificial islands in the South China Sea for the purpose of expanding its territorial claims into international waters and airspaceThe concerns over China’s expanding influence go back before the formal discussion of TPP agreement began in 2010. During testimony before U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission in March 18, 2008, concerns were raised over Chinese diplomatic moves and increased trade with potential allies. They fear that increased economic and diplomatic ties could weaken America’s influence in key parts of the world. For a detail look at the testimony go here. Later this week, look to see if there are any important developments on the TPP as Obama returns from visiting Asian countries after what was a tense and unusual G20 meeting in China. Obama strongly believes that the best way to check Chinese power and influence is through stronger economic ties between the U.S. and China’s neighbors. Is he right? Should we support flawed trade agreement for the sake of security and future American influence in the world? Do we have time to renegotiate the agreement before China cements its hold in the region? Obama doesn’t seem to think so.

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