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Shaping the future of Northeast Asia

By Hu Zhengyue | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-07-11 07:59

China, Japan and the ROK should leverage their comparative strengths and join hands to promote common development in Northeast Asia

Faced with a complex new international situation, East Asian countries must seize the current opportunity and unite for self-improvement, creating their future with their own hands. The momentum of peace and development cannot be stopped, and regional cooperation should be pushed forward.

For Northeast Asian countries, in particular, there are several major issues to focus on.

The first one is to maintain the sound momentum of improved bilateral relations among countries. The 10-point common understanding reached between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has rich connotations and is highly operable, and represents a good opportunity for results-oriented cooperation between China and Japan.

Relations between China and Republic of Korea have also returned to the normal track and are becoming more mature and steadier. In the light of the cooperation between China and the Republic of Korea in multiple areas, the two should work to expand cooperation with third-party countries.

Warming relations between the two Koreas have seen unprecedented breakthroughs, and the ROK and Japan are expected to get their political relationship out of the shadows soon.

All parties must properly manage and control any contradictions and frictions to retain the positive momentum of cooperation.

The second issue is the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula which should be properly handled as it is a precondition for long-term peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

It needs time to resolve the issue. But a positive sign is the third meeting between the leaders of the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in Panmunjom, during which President Donald Trump took a few historic steps into DPRK territory and shook hands with Chairman Kim Jong-un.

This symbolic gesture shows that the willingness of both sides to deal with long-term problems through dialogue. This momentum has been welcomed by all stakeholders, who should also contribute their wisdom and strength to the process.

The third issue is the need to accelerate tripartite cooperation between China, Japan and the ROK, which has a solid basis, sound mechanisms and wide support in the business sector. For this, the three countries should demonstrate stronger political willingness, leverage their complementary advantages and speed up negotiation of a free trade zone.

The three countries combined have a sizable economic volume, and deepened investment and trade cooperation among them will boost market demand and flows of trade, capital and people, and is of great importance to regional development.

Shaping the future of Northeast Asia

China's further opening-up will bring about a new round of opportunities for Japanese and ROK companies. And with the huge cooperation potential, the three countries should work together with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and strive to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations within the year.

In the financial sector, the three also need to play a guiding role in regional collaboration and work together to safeguard financial stability in the region.

The fourth issue concerns cooperation, which should be expanded to more areas. From a long-term perspective, Mongolia, the DPRK and far-eastern Russia should also be included into cooperation, which also represents the willingness of these countries.

The model of "China-Japan-ROK +" is worth more attention and research. And the three countries should leverage their comparative strengths and join hands in promoting common development in related countries under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. There remains huge potential to be tapped in far-eastern Russia and Mongolia, where infrastructure construction, mining development and husbandry should be prioritized areas.

The fifth issue is how to deal with historical rivalries and the lessons we can learn from them.

People-to-people and cultural exchanges are extremely important. Cultural and tourism cooperation can enhance goodwill among people, while technology, environmental protection, and cooperation in disaster prevention and reduction can bring tangible benefits to people.

Full play should be given to the role of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the Winter Olympics in Beijing to improve friendly sentiment among the region's youth. And the media should shoulder the responsibility of playing a positive part in boosting friendship.

The sixth issue is to ensure that dialogue and communication with the United States is continued. Northeast Asia possesses unique importance in the global economic, financial, scientific and technological landscape. And no country, including the US, which is now imposing protectionist tariffs, can afford to ignore the market potential and cooperation opportunities that Northeast Asia presents.

Judging from the understandings reached by the Chinese and US leaders in Osaka, the door of negotiation is still open. And certain arrangements based on mutual respect and reciprocity will serve the interests of both sides. It is unimaginable that the world's biggest three economies: the US, China and Japan should fight lasting trade wars.

In this sense, China, Japan and the ROK should unite and cooperate, strive to properly manage relations with the US, and push for the US to play a constructive role in Northeast Asia.

The author is the vice-president of the China Public Diplomacy Association. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Shaping the future of Northeast Asia

(China Daily Global 07/11/2019 page13)

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