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Continent's vitality hinges on enhanced Northeast Asian joint growth

China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-07 10:47
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People visit the China exhibition area at the Seoul International Travel Fair in Seoul in May. [Photo/Xinhua]

SEOUL — After a hiatus of more than four years, leaders from China, Japan and South Korea convened here for the ninth trilateral summit.

The restart of the trilateral meeting took place against the backdrop of rising protectionism, armed conflicts and supply chain restructuring. As major countries in Asia and leading economies in the world, the three countries carry a profound responsibility to articulate an unwavering commitment to bolstering trilateral cooperation.

Born amid the tumult of the Asian financial crisis in 1999, the three countries' cooperative framework stands out as an epitome of multilateral cooperation in East Asia, anchored by leaders' meetings and fortified by a network of ministerial gatherings, senior officials' assemblies and more than 70 working-level mechanisms.

The summit was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, challenges impeding a resumption were complicated by bilateral disputes and tensions. In addition, persistent external interference has added to the instability of trilateral cooperation.

Restarting the trilateral cooperation mechanism is inevitable because the shared interests and benefits of cooperation among China, Japan and South Korea have made the renewal of dialogue and collaboration compelling.

After all, the three countries are neighbors, and Northeast Asia is the shared home of all three. The benefits of trilateral cooperation far outweigh the discord among the three close neighbors.

Deepening trilateral cooperation among China, Japan and South Korea serves the common interests of all three parties. In terms of trade and economy, China is the largest trading partner of the other two. The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which includes China, Japan and South Korea, further accentuates the need to heighten economic integration among these key stakeholders.

This tripartite cooperation has facilitated the advancement of the participating nations and yielded tangible benefits for the wider regional populace.

The combined population of China, Japan and South Korea accounts for one-fifth of the global total, and their combined GDP makes up about one-fourth of the global total. The three countries are undoubtedly the main economic engines in the region and beyond. Enhanced trilateral cooperation among the three will contribute positively to regional and global development.

In the Trilateral Cooperation Vision for the Next Decade, a cooperation document released during the last trilateral summit meeting in 2019, the three countries pledged to work to develop a future-oriented cooperation model featuring peace, friendship and mutual benefit to make the trilateral cooperation a platform for peace, stability and regional cooperation and an important force for global development and prosperity.

The three countries should prioritize deeper cooperation across various sectors, including but not limited to economy, trade, culture and technology. By leveraging their respective strengths and resources, they can bolster regional stability and prosperity while also fostering an environment conducive to peace and cooperation.

In recent years, Washington has played up ideological disparities and formed exclusive cliques, seeking to supplant cooperation and harmony with confrontation and discord to further its own geopolitical agenda.

By fanning division and animosity, such hegemonic tactics not only disrupt the stability and prosperity of the region, but also impair genuine cooperation and progress.

As major economies in Asia, China, Japan and South Korea hold a special responsibility to champion the inclusive values inherent to Asia. This entails nurturing a sense of strategic independence, preserving regional harmony and stability, and adamantly rejecting any revival of Cold War mentality.

In their inaugural joint declaration issued 21 years ago, the three countries committed to advancing development, enhancing regional cooperation, and safeguarding peace and prosperity both regionally and globally through their trilateral collaboration.

Let this pledge serve as a reminder of the vital role that China-Japan-South Korea trilateral cooperation plays in shaping the future of the region and beyond.


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