The Wall Street Journal said this week that  the troubled 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is threatening to become a foreign policy failure in Asia, where the U.S. loaded the accord with strategic significance as a counterweight to the rise of China.

U.S. officials have touted TPP as central to a shift of U.S. military and other resources to Asia.  Now with opposition toward TPP mounting, the likelihood of ratifying the deal appears to be bleak.  Some say, failure at this point in time, would seriously dent U.S. credibility. “For the simple reason that the U.S. invested so much in it, the deal acquired a kind of totalistic value that goes way beyond its economic merits,” said Euan Graham, a former U.K. foreign officer who now studies regional security.  “To leave Asian partners hanging now would be disastrous for U.S. leadership in the region.”

The U.S pivot to Asia, unveiled in 2011, reflected concern about China’s bid to turn economic might into hard power in a region with growing importance.  Tensions have risen, with China testing U.S. military dominance by making claims on the South China Sea and protesting a U.S. antimissile installation in South Korea.

The U.S. is deeply integrated with Asia through big trade relationships with China and other economies, as well as defense treaties with Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.  Asian leaders who spent political capital to support TPP may be less likely to do so again if it is not ratified, some experts say.

Smaller countries that balance relationships with both China and the U.S. may doubt the U.S. and become accommodating to Beijing.  “Obama went around convincing countries to do things as part of an effort to show that we can stand up to China in some way,” said Yukon Hauang, a former World Bank chief for China and now a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “But now it if does not pass, they will take a much more skeptical approach.”

TPP is now opposed by most Democrats and now lacks the support of key Republican lawmakers who have championed the TPP and other trade pacts for years.  Both major presidential candidates also have attacked the deal.

The proposed pact, which was finalized last year, would cut or reduce some 18,000 tariffs for a group of Pacific Rim nations in the Americas, Asia and Oceania—an area accounting for 40 percent of the global economy.