China / Across America

Beijing should focus on BIT, not TPP

By Zhang Yue in Washington (China Daily USA) Updated: 2015-10-08 10:55

It is more important for China to focus on prospects for a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with the United States than the recently agreed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which does not include China, according to a China expert.

The point was made by Stapleton Roy, former US ambassador to China, during a panel discussion Wednesday on reassessing the foundation of China-US relations.

"My suggestion for China, on the newly passed TPP issue is, pressing ahead with the Bilateral Investment Treaty first. If we cannot get a BIT, we will not get a Chinese membership in the TPP," he said. "And if we do get a BIT, what would be the big hurdle for China's entry into the TPP will have already been solved."

The 12 members of the TPP - the US, Japan, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam - account for about 40 percent of the world's economy.

Derek Scissors, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said of the TPP that "we still need to get Congress to get it passed. And if the TPP turns out to be a very dynamic pact, not a left or right thing, I think it is hard not to get China joining it because China is so important."

On Sept 25, during President Xi Jinping's state visit to the US, President Barack Obama said the two countries had agreed to "step up our work toward a high-standard Bilateral Investment Treaty", which he said would provide a fairer playing level for American companies".

Both Obama and Xi reaffirmed their commitment for an early conclusion of the BIT during Obama's visit to Beijing last November.

While the US hopes the BIT will open more service sector market for US investors, the Chinese hope the growing Chinese investment in the US will be treated fairly and not subject to discriminatory scrutiny by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, known as CFIUS.

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