To join the TPP negotiations, China would have to commit to domestic concessions that would create short term frictions but are also in its longer run interests. In return, America and Australia would have to be give something back, probably by being more open to Chinese investment. National security considerations must sometimes trump commercial ones, but the bar should be held high.
This give and take could make possible Chinese participation in the TPP talks, the conclusion of which is a high priority both for the Obama administration and for Prime Minister Tony Abbott's new Australian government.
Nearly 15 years after China joined the World Trade Organization with Bill Clinton's support, the benefits to China and the world are large and unambiguous – in terms not only of economic gains but also geopolitical stability.
Now is the time to think about another bold move where China and free trade are concerned.
Geoffrey Garrett is dean of the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales in Sydney and is in Washington D.C. for the CSIS-U.S. Studies Centre conference on the future of American-Australian relations.