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China is the dragon that will consume Asia's economic future

RCEP agreement gives Beijing a win at the expense of everyone else

| China
Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chairs the RCEP summit in Hanoi on Nov. 15, 2020: the benefits cannot be distributed equally between countries.   © Reuters

William Bratton is author of "China's Rise, Asia's Decline" which will be published later this year by Marshall Cavendish.

The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, has been accompanied by the usual excited commentary about how it will increase trade flows and boost the region's economic growth. But these banal platitudes overlook the long-term consequences of free trade -- and the reality that it creates winners and losers.

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