A mammoth Asian trade deal covering about a third of global GDP was signed on Sunday, nearly a decade after it was first mooted. The deal is being presented as a win for the Chinese government—but its weaknesses leave Beijing far short of a leadership position on regional trade.

Seven of the 15 members of the new Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership are already members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which came into force nearly two years ago. Ten are members of the Association…

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