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Obama backs TPP so China doesn't 'set the rules'

Updated: 2016-01-13 13:34
By CHEN WEIHUA and HENG WEILI in New York and AGENCIES (China Daily USA)


Obama backs TPP so China doesn't 'set the rules'

US President Barack Obama smiles as he delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington, January 12, 2016.[Photo/Agencies]

In his final State of the Union address, US President Barack Obama singled out China in a bid to push Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

"With TPP, China doesn't set the rules in that region, we do," Obama told lawmakers on Tuesday night in a speech in the House of Representatives in Washington.

"You want to show our strength in this century?" he asked. "Approve this agreement. Give us the tools to enforce it."

The TPP, a trade agreement reached by 12 Pacific Rim countries in October, is facing strong opposition in Congress, especially from Obama's fellow Democrats. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, also has opposed TPP.

China is not a TPP member, but is an important trade partner of all 12 TPP members, which comprise Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam, some of which have already had free trade agreements with China.

In the only other reference to China, Obama alluded to its economic slowdown and recent stock market turmoil, saying that "economic headwinds blow from a Chinese economy in transition".

Focusing on domestic politics, Obama struck back at critics who have challenged his economic and national security stewardship, calling it all "political hot air".

He vowed a robust campaign to "take out" the Islamic State group, but chastised Republicans for "over the top claims" about the extremist group's power.

"Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger and must be stopped," he said. "But they do not threaten our national security."

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