Is this what winning looks like? As the White House signals the end of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, 15 Asian countries have turned to China for economic leadership.

The news vindicates President-elect Trump’s claim that the United States is always losing to China. But this time he’s partly to blame — as is his opponent, who refused to defend a deal he had helped shape. As America prepares to retreat into isolationism, the communist giant begins to emerge as the leader of free trade.

President Xi Jinping is advancing China’s version of TPP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The plan excludes America and currently includes 10 member states. Like TPP, it’s meant to enhance free trade, only now China will set the rules. And the impact is massive.

RCEP potentially includes 3 billion people for a combined GDP of about $17 trillion, according to the Center for Strategies and International Studies. Put in different terms, that’s about 45 percent of the world’s population and 40 percent of global trade. That shift east means big losses for the west, precisely what TPP aimed to avoid.

Because political influence follows market share, more Asian nations will begin looking not to Washington but to Beijing. Some of America’s longest and most trusted allies in the region, like Australia and Japan are drawn further into China’s orbit.

Without TPP, for example, China will inevitably horn in on America’s Japanese influence, as the White House Council of Economic advisors reported. That hurts the 5 million American workers who draw paychecks from one of the 35 U.S. industries doing more than $5 billion in business on the island nation.

Confronted with that new playing field, industries might just pull up their roots for good. Trump might threaten to punish companies that ship jobs overseas. But he can’t punish businesses that leave altogether in pursuit of Asian markets. As the Wall Street Journal observes, corporations will flee American protectionism in pursuit of preferential access to markets with fewer barriers.

When Trump gets into office he’d better start making some of those “good” deals he promised. Because an America first policy is already causing the nation to all behind.

Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

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