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(114,904 posts)
Thu Aug 18, 2016, 07:34 AM Aug 2016

Why is President Obama pushing the TPP with every ounce of political muscle he possesses?

The other day, someone asked me if I thought his motives were "malicious". I said I didn't. But I do think I know what the basis for his determination to enact it is. In a word: CHINA.

It's about limiting China's influence in the region every bit as much as it's about anything else (actually the majority of the TPP isn't about trade or tariffs).

It's about keeping China's growing influence checked and in abeyance as long as possible. In the long run, that's hard to see happening. China has a swiftly growing economy and a swelling middle class. It's part of the region that we wish to hitch firmly to our wagon, so its influence is, in large part, a simple matter of geography.

China's ongoing and ramped up attempt to control and dominate the South China Sea is an example of what many see as a threat not just to nations in the region but to U.S. influence. I believe President Obama has said as much, though of course, in trying to sell the TPP to the American people, he is focusing on its presumed benefits to American workers and corporations.

China already has a trading pact with several nations in the region- ASEAN. It does not include such nations as Japan or Australia or New Zealand.

The U.S. and other nations want to diminish ASEAN via the TPP.



The South China Sea is an extremely significant body of water in a geopolitical sense. It is the second most used sea lane in the world, while in terms of world annual merchant fleet tonnage, over 50% passes through the Strait of Malacca, the Sunda Strait, and the Lombok Strait. Over 1.6 million m³ (10 million barrels) of crude oil a day are shipped through the Strait of Malacca, where there are regular reports of piracy, but much less frequently than before the mid-20th century.

The region has proven oil reserves of around 1.2 km³ (7.7 billion barrels), with an estimate of 4.5 km³ (28 billion barrels) in total. Natural gas reserves are estimated to total around 7,500 km³ (266 trillion cubic feet). A 2013 report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration raised the total estimated oil reserves to 11 billion barrels. In 2014 China began to drill for oil in waters disputed with Vietnam.

According to studies made by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippines, this body of water holds one third of the entire world's marine biodiversity, thereby making it a very important area for the ecosystem. However the fish stocks in the area are depleted, and countries are using fishing bans as a means of asserting their sovereignty claims.

Main article: Territorial disputes in the South China Sea

Several countries have made competing territorial claims over the South China Sea. Such disputes have been regarded as Asia's most potentially dangerous point of conflict. Both People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC, commonly known as Taiwan) claim almost the entire body as their own, demarcating their claims within what is known as the nine-dotted line, which claims overlap with virtually every other country in the region. Competing claims include:

Indonesia, China, and Taiwan over waters NE of the Natuna Islands

The Philippines, China, and Taiwan over Scarborough Shoal.

Vietnam, China, and Taiwan over waters west of the Spratly Islands. Some or all of the islands themselves are also disputed between

Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

The Paracel Islands are disputed between the PRC/ROC and Vietnam.

Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam over areas in the Gulf of Thailand.

Singapore and Malaysia along the Strait of Johore and the Strait of Singapore.

China and Vietnam have both been vigorous in prosecuting their claims. China (various governments) and South Vietnam each controlled part of the Paracel Islands before 1974. A brief conflict in 1974 resulted in 18 soldiers being killed, and China has controlled the whole of Paracel since then. The Spratly Islands have been the site of a naval clash, in which over seventy Vietnamese sailors were killed just south of Chigua Reef in March 1988. Disputing claimants regularly report clashes between naval vessels.

ASEAN in general, and Malaysia in particular, has been keen to ensure that the territorial disputes within the South China Sea do not escalate into armed conflict. As such, Joint Development Authorities have been set up in areas of overlapping claims to jointly develop the area and dividing the profits equally without settling the issue of sovereignty over the area. This is true, particularly in the Gulf of Thailand. Generally, China has preferred to resolve competing claims bi-laterally, while some ASEAN countries prefer multi-lateral talks, believing that they are disadvantaged in bi-lateral negotiations with the much larger China and that because many countries claim the same territory only multilateral talks could effectively resolve the competing claims.

The overlapping claims over Pedra Branca or Pulau Batu Putih including neighboring Middle Rocks by both Singapore and Malaysia were settled in 2008 by the International Court of Justice, awarding Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh to Singapore and Middle Rocks to Malaysia.



The US Air Force just made a huge show in the South China Sea with 3 nuclear-capable bombers

On Wednesday, the US Air Force made history by flying all three operational bombers, the B-52, the B-1, and the B-2 over Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, before conducting drills in the South China Sea and Northeast Asia.

The unique opportunity to fly these three long range bombers together came when the advanced B-1s and B-2s arrived in the theater to relieve the B-52s that were stationed there as part of operation Continuous Bomber Presence.

Essentially, it is the goal of US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) to constantly station nuclear-capable bombers in the Pacific in a visible effort to deter aggression in the region. But lately, the US has stepped up the presence, pulling out all three big bombers, while China has been acting increasingly aggressively towards their neighbors in the South China Sea.

China, for their part, has attempted to establish a "no sail zone," intruded into Japan's territorial waters, and flew bomber patrols of their own over the disputed islands and shoals since the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague ruled against their claims to the South China Sea. Now it would seem the US is answering.



19 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
Why is President Obama pushing the TPP with every ounce of political muscle he possesses? (Original Post) cali Aug 2016 OP
TPP is about constraining g China, not trade or economics Cicada Aug 2016 #1
What a racist thing to say. Shame on you n/t n2doc Aug 2016 #10
China Culture means culture of current Chinese government Cicada Aug 2016 #19
NAFTA bad, TPP bad. That is how American attention span works. timlot Aug 2016 #2
Sorry, but I've been doing more than reading up on it. I've researched it for years cali Aug 2016 #4
Sure, but Obama likes it. Stubborn Aug 2016 #11
That may well be enough for many people. It is not for me. cali Aug 2016 #13
We have always been at war with Oceania RapSoDee Aug 2016 #3
I've been saying this since, well, forever... TreasonousBastard Aug 2016 #5
I think I have a basic grasp of those intricacies. cali Aug 2016 #8
You will NEVER support the TPP "as written". Such an agreement can never... TreasonousBastard Aug 2016 #9
Melodramatic much? And I've read it and researched it for years cali Aug 2016 #12
Because he wants independent unions and a higher minimum wage in Asia Recursion Aug 2016 #6
I think it's largely geopolitical and the FACTS I posted in the op, support that. cali Aug 2016 #7
Well, yeah, unionized Asian countries would be geopolitical... joshcryer Aug 2016 #17
I trust President Obama. Period. philosslayer Aug 2016 #14
Because he is ideologically a global corporatist. TheKentuckian Aug 2016 #15
Because he believes in it? joshcryer Aug 2016 #16
I think it's largely about China. cali Aug 2016 #18


(4,533 posts)
1. TPP is about constraining g China, not trade or economics
Thu Aug 18, 2016, 07:53 AM
Aug 2016

Trade covered by TPP is a trivial part of our economy. We want TPP to create ties with Asian nations so they will not form strong ties with China. We want those nations to be part of the Western team and not part of the China team. Top greased the track for that. We believe that the Western culture is Superior to the China culture so limiting the expansion of Chinese influence is good for the world as well as good for the USA. That's why Obama loves TPP and that's why Clinton will do nothing to stop TPP. Changes may be made to reduce opposition to it but it will be passed.

It is not really about trade. It's about international relations. And you should support it if you agree that Western culture is Superior to Chinese culture.


(4,533 posts)
19. China Culture means culture of current Chinese government
Thu Aug 18, 2016, 11:46 AM
Aug 2016

We will be in competition for world dominance as the Chinese economy grows. That is what TPP is about. If Taiwan were to invade mainland China and take control of the government then Obama would not care so much about TPP. The Chinese people seem wonderful. I would be happy if 200 million young Chinese came to college in the U.S., became US citizens and became dominant in our society. We would be a better country. But the current Chinese government, with its rejection of Western values such as free expression of political views, is not so good.



(456 posts)
2. NAFTA bad, TPP bad. That is how American attention span works.
Thu Aug 18, 2016, 07:53 AM
Aug 2016

I wondered too why Obama was going so hard for TPP when left was so against it. I read up on it and understand his position as president trying to make sure America doesn't isolate itself from the global economy. Although personally I would to see something different than this no holds bared free trade position America has taken in the past.



(114,904 posts)
4. Sorry, but I've been doing more than reading up on it. I've researched it for years
Thu Aug 18, 2016, 08:05 AM
Aug 2016

I've been slogging through the entire document since it was released 9 months ago. I read the leaked chapters. I've read commentary, pro and con, ranging from the USTR and Whitehouse.guv to Public Citizen, The Sierra Club, NRDC, Infojustice and much more.

You are wrong. I've written dozens of ops detailing the problems with the TPP. They are extensive. There are no easy fixes for such things as "evergreening" or enforcement of labor and environmental issues.

You want to discuss the issues within the TPP? let's go.


(43,049 posts)
5. I've been saying this since, well, forever...
Thu Aug 18, 2016, 08:08 AM
Aug 2016

The TPP has become one of those articles of faith and buzzwords within certain parts of the Left that do not understand the intricacies of trade, diplomacy, and regional power blocs. It is being blamed for our internal labor and rights issues that will actually be the worse without it. It is also being looked at as another aspect of American hegemony, which is apparently a bad thing.

China is enormous, and now a direct competitor to us. This is not new, or necessarily a bad thing, since we are dealing quite well with the EU, Japan, and S. Korea. Most people would say competition with them is working out quite well for everyone. China, however, is in the same place we were not along ago-- much larger than the competition and and able to simply push everyone around to get its way. They are pushing the competition to new, and dangerous, levels.

Let's say it is China's day, and they should be on the world's stage as a major player. Fine, but not at the expense of its neighbors, and not radically upsetting whatever we have achieved so far,



(114,904 posts)
8. I think I have a basic grasp of those intricacies.
Thu Aug 18, 2016, 08:17 AM
Aug 2016

I do not support the TPP as written- and I've done a lot of homework.


(43,049 posts)
9. You will NEVER support the TPP "as written". Such an agreement can never...
Thu Aug 18, 2016, 08:29 AM
Aug 2016

be written that will acceptably address every issue from every point of view. We'd be lucky if we got it halfway decently done.

Without even a bad agreement we have anarchy, and anarchy always ends up with the strongest taking over.



(114,904 posts)
12. Melodramatic much? And I've read it and researched it for years
Thu Aug 18, 2016, 08:39 AM
Aug 2016

Yes, it could be written in a way that substantively addresses such issues as effective enforcement. Yes, I could support it with flaws, but as I, and many, many experts in the field see it, the flaws outweigh the benefits.


(56,582 posts)
6. Because he wants independent unions and a higher minimum wage in Asia
Thu Aug 18, 2016, 08:08 AM
Aug 2016

I don't see what's so mysterious about his motivations: he thinks this is a good treaty.
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