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FirstFT: China seeks to join transpacific trade pact

Chinese trade updates

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China has made a push to enter a transpacific trade pact originally designed by Washington to limit Beijing’s growing economic and political influence in the region.

The Chinese Department of Commerce yesterday announced that Beijing’s application for the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership had been transmitted over the telephone to New Zealand, which handles requests for membership.

The predecessor for the CPTPP was the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement signed in 2016 by the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and seven other countries. It was originally negotiated by then US president Barack Obama to ensure that Washington, rather than Beijing, kept a hand over regional trade and investment rules.

His successor Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in 2017, leaving Japan to spearhead its reformation into the CPTPP, which came into force the following year.

Beijing’s application comes as Australia, the UK and US struck a security pact allowing Canberra to purchase nuclear-powered submarines to offset an increasingly assertive China. Beijing condemned the move, accusing the three countries of having an “outdated cold war zero-sum mentality”.

Do you think China poses a military threat in the Asia-Pacific region? Email me at emily.goldberg@ft.com. Thanks for reading and here’s the rest of today’s news — Emily

Five more stories in the news

1. Unpublished ECB inflation estimate raises prospect of earlier rate rise The European Central Bank expects to hit its elusive 2 per cent inflation target by 2025, according to unpublished internal models that suggest it is on course to raise interest rates in just over two years.

2. Lachlan Murdoch’s cements serial dealmaker status Lachlan Murdoch has emerged as a serial dealmaker since taking the reins as the heir apparent of his father Rupert’s entertainment empire in 2019, overseeing almost $7bn in acquisitions. 

3. Didi loses 30% of daily users after Beijing crackdown China’s leading ride-hailing app, Didi Chuxing, has had its number of daily users fall 30 per cent since its initial public offering in New York in June triggered a fierce backlash by Beijing.

4. Laos pushes into crypto as it authorises mining and trading The policy shift by the debt-laden south-east Asian nation positions it to profit from the crackdown on digital currency mining in China. Analysts said Laos’ move was a logical step the nation, which produces a surplus of hydroelectric power, but some warned that criminal gangs could seek to profit from the trade.

Ark Invest’s Cathie Wood predicted that bitcoin’s price would increase tenfold within five years. Do you agree? Vote in our poll.

5. MassMutual fined over ‘Roaring Kitty’ meme-stock trading The US insurer has been fined $4m by the securities regulator in its home state of Massachusetts for failing to properly supervise Keith Gill, a former employee whose videos under aliases including “Roaring Kitty” encouraged millions of new day traders to pump shares of GameStop higher.

Coronavirus digest

China reported 49 new local cases of Covid-19 yesterday, with 48 in the Delta-variant outbreak in the country’s southeastern Fujian province. China said it has vaccinated more than 1bn people — more than 70 per cent of its population.

The biotechnology start-up that supplied Covid-19 tests to the English Premier League has merged with a US-listed special purpose acquisition company, becoming Hong Kong’s first “unicorn” to list.

US retail sales bounced back in August as shoppers stocked up on school supplies and home decor in a sign of their willingness to spend.

The White House offered to call rapper Nicki Minaj with a doctor to answer her questions about vaccine safety after she publicly questioned the jab. (FT, Bloomberg, NYT)

The day ahead

Manchester United earnings The team releases its full-year earning results today, including its financial outlook for the year ahead. Investors will look for details of the bill for its blockbuster deal for Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as how quickly the club could return to growth as it recovers from the pandemic.

EU inflation data Earlier this week Eurostat reported that Eurozone wages fell for the first time since 2011 in the three months to June from a year ago. This report eased fears ahead of today’s inflation data release.

Go deeper: Ahead of today’s EU inflation report, catch up on Rob Armstrong’s latest Unhedged newsletter on why we get inflation wrong. Sign up to get it in your inbox here.

FDA panel on Pfizer booster jabs An expert panel will meet today to give the US drugs regulator an official recommendation as to whether to authorise the company’s booster jab application.

What else we’re reading

China’s financial blogger crackdown Beijing has launched a clampdown on financial blogs and social media, which risks exacerbating a chronic problem plaguing the world’s second-biggest economy: a dearth of reliable data.

The last mogul: Universal Music’s Lucian Grainge In an FT interview the most powerful CEO in the music industry weighs in on defying death, killer deals and taking his record label public. In an industry that has staged its own unexpected revival in the past five years, the company’s September 21 IPO is the ultimate test of recovery.

Russia’s elections: persecution and cash handouts The outcome of Sunday’s elections for the Duma may be a foregone conclusion: United Russia is expected to retain its constitutional majority. But as soaring food prices and sliding real incomes have sent approval ratings to record lows, Vladimir Putin is pulling out all the stops to crack down on dissent.

Vladimir Putin in a montage with protesters and a Russian calendar marking September 19
The unprecedented crackdown on dissent has underscored how the Kremlin views perceived foreign threats as the crucial obstacle to its continued survival © FT montage; AP, Getty Images

Could behavioural nudges help us tackle the climate crisis? How many of our new lockdown habits will become ingrained? And can we use this lesson to make other shifts in our lives, say, in relation to the crucial question of combating climate change? New research suggests three tools in particular that can change habits for the better.

The US Democratic party’s double standards on wealth inequality Now is the ripest opportunity in a long time to redress America’s late Rome-style inequality, writes Edward Luce. But the fact that Democrats are so timid speaks volumes. Read more from Edward in our US politics newsletter, Swamp Notes. Sign up here.


Yasuto Kamoshita, co-founder of Japanese clothing brand United Arrows, shares his insider’s guide to Tokyo. “A lot of the best stores are a mish-mash of different things, both classic and street, creating a scrambled style,” he writes.

Kanda Book Town © Kanda Book Town

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