Everyone Wants in on the Pacific Trade Deal—Except the US

The People’s Republic of China and its rival Taiwan have both asked to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)—the successor to the TPP trade deal engineered by the US, in part, to counter China. As for Beijing’s request, The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman reads it as “a ploy” that makes a mockery of America’s ineptitude, after the US abandoned its own grand, regional trade proposal in a fit of domestic pique under former President Donald Trump.

A Nikkei Asia editorial asks if China’s partly state-run economy is serious about making the liberalizations required to join CPTPP, and it shares Friedman’s sense of irony for the US.

“The U.S. is reluctant to return to the CPTPP, and Beijing undoubtedly wants to capitalize on Washington’s absence,” the paper writes. “America’s allies, including Japan, should leverage their close ties with Washington to encourage the U.S. to come back to the accord.”

What to Make of the Taliban

It’s not likely that the Taliban will make a speech at the current UN General Assembly session, Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer write for Foreign Policy, but they’ve asked to join the club. At Foreign Affairs, Lisa Curtis retraces US missteps in negotiating with the Taliban and argues the international community should withhold support until the Taliban guarantees an inclusive order, rejection of terrorism, and rights for women.

If the world is still deciding what to make of the Taliban government, so are Afghans: At The Diplomat, Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska details an air of uncertainty in the country, as some women stay home and as other Afghans avoid playing music out of apprehension, even if the Taliban haven’t instituted the draconian measures many fear.

Macron May Be Angry, But Is He Better Off?

US President Joe Biden has spoken with French President Emmanuel Macron, after the latter recalled France’s ambassador to Washington over the snub of a newly announced security pact between the US, UK, and Australia.

Macron may be smarting, but the spat with America could benefit him, Vivienne Walt writes for Time: “Macron faces a difficult election next April for a second five-year term as President … His most likely challenger … is the far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen, who has cast Macron as being too eager to act in lockstep with Washington, rather than purely in French interests. … Macron’s feud with Biden could well benefit him among his voters. ‘They would be delighted if this dustup continues,’ says François Heisbourg, special advisor to the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris. ‘This is a positive for Macron.’”

‘The Last Chance to Stop North Korea?’

After a new round of North Korean missile tests, Victor Cha writes for Foreign Affairs that Kim Jong Un’s regime is on the cusp of developing new capabilities—including nuclear-armed cruise missiles and the ability to launch before the US can strike.

That means we may be headed for another stretch of nuclear brinksmanship à la the “fire and fury” days of the Trump administration. Cha suggests the US could face its last chance to calm tensions with humanitarian aid including, by Cha’s suggestion, Covid-19 vaccines.

Evergrande’s Warning Signs

The business press has been atwitter over the possible default of Evergrande, a massive—and massively indebted—Chinese real-estate firm, asking if another Lehman Brothers-style collapse could roil global finance.

The Economist worries that Chinese banks and institutional lenders will be hit unevenly if Evergrande fails; at The New York Times, Keith Bradsher and Alexandra Stevenson write that the firm’s troubles mirror a broader Chinese economic slowdown. A Financial Times essay by James Kynge and Sun Yu suggests the global economy wouldn’t suffer anything close to a 2008 redux if things go (farther) south for the firm—but that Evergrande’s saga harbingers the end of China’s glutted real-estate spending and its era of hulking, vacant, unfinished developments.

Insights, analysis and must reads from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and the Global Public Square team, compiled by Global Briefing editor Chris Good

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