China wins with Trump's TPP exit: expert

By Peter Mitchell, AAP US Correspondent

US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Australia and 10 other Pacific allies is giving China "a free hand to dictate trade in Asia", according to an expert in Asian affairs.

China was not invited to join the TPP, but Trump could have opened the way for the Asian power by walking the US away from the massive free trade pact.

Trump's media spokesman Sean Spicer said on Monday the US would pursue one-on-one trade deals with countries rather than complicated multi-nation pacts like the TPP.

"For someone who is so outwardly anti-China, many of Trump's major policies, philosophies, and plans benefit China," Isaac Stone Fish, senior fellow at the Asia Society's centre for US-China relations, said.

"TPP is just one of many examples."

Fish said Trump's "discrediting" of the US alliance structure made China stronger in regards to Japan and South Korea.

"His isolationism, and his dislike of pushing China on human rights, improves the country's image both domestically and internationally," he said.

"His trade policies - and even a trade war - could push China towards an economy more reliant on domestic consumption, instead of exports.

"And that is what many foreign experts, and Chinese liberals, believe is the way for the country to build a sustainable economy."

The TPP was between the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Mexico, Chile, Vietnam, Peru, Brunei and Malaysia.