China has formally made an application to join the world’s third-largest trade pact, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). 

Lawyers in Asia say the move is an attempt by China to strengthen its ties with U.S. allies. But more significantly, joining the trade pact would further propel China’s trajectory in overcoming the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially overtaking the U.S. as world leader. Last year, China’s economic growth reached 2.3%, while the U.S. economy contracted 3.5% amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.