"There's nothing more important than resurrecting, bringing back the TPP. That's probably the best economic complement we can come up with in the U.S. to deal with South China Sea issues (involving) China," said Max Baucus, the Obama administration's envoy to China from 2014 to January 2017.
President Donald Trump formally withdrew the U.S. from the TPP just days after his inauguration on January 20 this year . The accord between the U.S. and 11 countries in the Pacific region to liberalize trade, set common trade standards and cut barriers was reached in 2015.
The move to exit the deal will not bode well for the U.S. geopolitical presence in Asia, Baucus told CNBC's "The Rundown" on Thursday.
With Trump's withdrawal from the trade pact, Southeast Asian countries will think the U.S. is leaving the region and cannot be depended upon like in the past, he said.
"China is going to fill that void, there is no question (about it) with their RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) and with all the things they are doing," said Baucus.
The RCEP is a trade deal between the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus regional trading partners including Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
"The best thing to deal with South China Sea issue is to bring back the TPP, repackage it, change it, call it Trump PP — whatever it takes to show to Asian countries, especially Southeast Asian countries and Japan, that we are present and we are part of the solution," Baucus said.