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“Will China join the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership)?” a director of a TV news show asked me on a midnight phone call last week. “Are you kidding?” I sleepily murmured. “No,” he said, “President Xi Jinping just announced it this afternoon!” OK, that was a call I had to take.

According to the director, Xi told a virtual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting hosted by Malaysia that China would “actively consider” joining the CPTPP (or TPP-11), an economic partnership agreement among Japan and 10 other regional economies. The United States withdrew from the original Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) in 2017.

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