Might China rescue the globalisation of trade from its rejection by the US, under the presidency of Donald Trump? Could the threat of Chinese leadership, or pressure from US business, persuade Trump to take another look at trade deals, even President Barack Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership? The answer to the first question is: only up to a point. China could not replace an engaged and outward-looking US, even if it wanted to — but it could help. As to Trump’s intentions, are they fixed or negotiable? President Xi Jinping this weekend promised a brave new Beijing-led order marked by openness to trade and investment. Obama’s TPP was designed to exclude China. Now Trump has announced the US will pull out of the deal when he takes office. This leaves the way open for China to push ahead with its alternative: the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Seven of the 12 putative members of TPP are potential members of RCEP. Xi also offers Latin American countries access to China’s On...

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