Top think tank head un­trou­bled by Trump

China Daily (Canada) - - ANALYSIS - By ANDREW MOODY an­drew­moody@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Wang Huiyao in­sisted that, in light of the im­pend­ing with­drawal of the US from the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship, trade treaties need to deal bet­ter with the com­plex­i­ties of glob­al­iza­tion.

Wang, who is pres­i­dent of the Cen­ter for China and Glob­al­iza­tion, China’s largest in­de­pen­dent think tank, said the deals now need to be more ver­sion 2.0 than 1.0.

“The old con­cept of free trade was to have no tar­iffs, and ev­ery­thing to be free within a group of coun­tries.

“We now need to come up with some­thing more com­plex than that, which maybe sets a few bound­aries and adds some new rules,” he said.

“The US could en­ter into a treaty with China, for ex­am­ple, where there is a con­di­tion that China has to in­vest in man­u­fac­tur­ing in the Amer­i­can Rust Belt, which would help Trump pro­vide jobs there.”

Wang, who was speak­ing in his of­fices in Han­wei Plaza in Bei­jing’s Chaoyang district, sees the likely col­lapse of TPP due to US non-par­tic­i­pa­tion as an op­por­tu­nity to re­shape Asia-Pa­cific trade.

“There is more hope of this un­der Trump than with Hil­lary (Clin­ton). With her we would still be on 1.0. But now we can go on to 2.0.”

Ap­pointed a counsellor on the Chi­nese State Coun­cil, or cabi­net, last year by Chi­nese Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang, Wang said one of the fault lines of the TPP was that it did not in­clude China and was seen as be­ing part of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s pivot to Asia strat­egy, of which Clin­ton was a lead­ing ar­chi­tect as sec­re­tary of state.

He be­lieves there is an op­por­tu­nity for a new trade agree­ment that in­cludes both the US and China.

“Why don’t they just do another trade deal and write the rules? Here is an op­por­tu­nity for the clever politi­cians to demon­strate some ca­pac­ity for lead­er­ship and get a new deal ap­proved,” Wang said.

“China and the US are the two largest trad­ing na­tions in the world, and they have one of the largest bi­lat­eral trad­ing re­la­tion­ships as well. So any ma­jor trade agree­ment for the Asi­aPa­cific with­out China or the US can’t re­ally be com­plete or work­able.”

Wang be­lieves the new ad­min­is­tra­tion might be open to a strong re­la­tion­ship with China, de­spite Trump’s threat­en­ing dur­ing his cam­paign to im­pose a 45 per­cent tar­iff on Chi­nese im­ports.

He said a re­cent ar­ti­cle by Trump’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, James Woolsey, in the South China Morn­ing Post — which ar­gued that Obama’s op­po­si­tion to China’s Asia In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank was a mis­take — was en­cour­ag­ing.

“I think this alone sends an enor­mous sig­nal to China that there may be move­ment on a lot of is­sues. It might be that China might in­vite the US to join its Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive. There might be a lot more flex­i­bil­ity about these things,” he said.

Wang, 57, founded the glob­al­iza­tion cen­ter in 2008. It now has more than 100 staff mem­bers, 50 in Bei­jing and the rest in of­fices in Guangzhou, Shen­zhen, Qing­dao and Shang­hai. There are also rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fices in Wash­ing­ton, New York and Europe.

The cen­ter pub­lishes spe­cial re­ports in a num­ber of ar­eas, in­clud­ing Chi­nese en­ter­prises ex­pand­ing over­seas, de­vel­op­ing tal­ent and global gov­er­nance.

Wang be­lieves the ve­hi­cle for tak­ing trade ne­go­ti­a­tions for­ward could be the Free Trade Area of the Asi­aPa­cific, or FTAAP, which was first dis­cussed at the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion meet­ing in Hanoi in 2006.

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping gave fresh im­pe­tus to it in his key­note ad­dress at the APEC meet­ing in Lima, Peru, in Novem­ber.

Such a free trade agree­ment would likely in­volve the 21 Pa­cific Rim mem­bers of APEC, in­clud­ing both China and the US.

“With what has hap­pened to the TPP, it could now suc­ceed. I also think Don­ald Trump, who is both a busi­nessper­son and prag­ma­tist, would also see it as a good way of en­gag­ing with China and the Pa­cific coun­tries,” Wang said.

He be­lieves that the TPP is ef­fec­tively now dead in the wa­ter.

“It still ex­ists, but as (Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo) Abe said it is now ir­rel­e­vant,” he said.

Wang, who grew up in Sichuan, had his ed­u­ca­tion in­ter­rupted by the “cul­tural rev­o­lu­tion” (1966-76). He was among the gen­er­a­tion of Chi­nese stu­dents that re­turned to uni­ver­sity stud­ies in 1978.

He stud­ied English and Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture at Guangzhou Uni­ver­sity of For­eign Stud­ies be­fore go­ing on to do an MBA at the Uni­ver­sity of Wind­sor in On­tario, Canada.

He be­came chief trade rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the Que­bec govern­ment in Hong Kong and the Chi­nese main­land, returning to China in 1993.

Wang, who has a PhD from Manch­ester Busi­ness School, has taught at Pek­ing Uni­ver­sity’s Guanghua School of Man­age­ment and at Ts­inghua Uni­ver­sity, and is also a vis­it­ing fel­low at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion and a se­nior fel­low at the Har­vard Kennedy School. He has also held a num­ber of key busi­ness po­si­tions.

He at­tended the of­fi­cial open­ing cer­e­mony of a new fac­tory of Chi­nese auto glass maker Fuyao, which will be the largest in the world, in Mo­raine, Ohio, in Oc­to­ber. The plant cur­rently em­ploys 2,000 but this is ex­pected to grow to as much as 2,500 by the end of next year.

“More than 800 peo­ple at­tended — gov­er­nors, con­gress­men, peo­ple from the lo­cal com­mu­nity and also from the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion and other such bod­ies. I think it is a re­ally good ex­am­ple of how trade and in­vest­ment be­tween China and the US can be main­tained,” Wang said.

“If Don­ald Trump re­ally wants to make Amer­ica great again this is how he can do it: by en­cour­ag­ing more Chi­nese in­vest­ment in the US. It is a way of de­liv­er­ing good jobs and bet­ter in­comes for peo­ple in these ar­eas of the US were peo­ple feel their liv­ing stan­dards have fallen be­hind.”

ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

Wang Huiyao, pres­i­dent of the Cen­ter for China and Glob­al­iza­tion, sees the likely col­lapse of TPP as a chance to re­shape Asia-Pa­cific trade.

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