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Diplomacy in full swing in new era

By Cui Shoufeng | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-16 07:41

Editor's note:

The leadership of the Communist Party of China has wrapped up its first series of diplomatic efforts after the 19th National Congress of the CPC, which included US President Donald Trump's maiden visit to China, President Xi Jinping's speech at the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Vietnam, and Premier Li Keqiang's deliberations at the ASEAN+China (10+1) leaders' meeting in the Philippines. Three experts share their views on Chinese diplomacy in the "new era" and Asia-Pacific integration with China Daily's Cui Shoufeng. Excerpts follow:

Easier to build East Asian economic community

Diplomacy in full swing in new era

Zhang Yunling, director of international studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and a senior adviser to Pangoal Institute in Beijing

November has been a month of Asia-Pacific meetings for years, and this year it has been marked by the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam, and the 20th ASEAN-China (10+1) leaders' meeting, 20th ASEAN-China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (10+3) leaders' meeting, and the 12th East Asia Summit in Manila, the Philippines.

China, an ardent supporter of regional economic integration, has made strenuous efforts to put the Asia-Pacific region on the fast track to free trade, which include the proposal to build the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific and push for negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

In contrast, the Trump-led United States administration has little interest in pushing for open regional markets or upgrading Asia-Pacific cooperation. Founded in 1989 to practice "open regionalism", the 21-member APEC now accounts for about 40 percent of the global population, 60 percent of global economic output and 48 percent of global trade.

But unlike his predecessor Barack Obama who pushed the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations even at the risk of tearing apart the APEC arrangements, Trump has pulled the US out of the TPP-not to bring Asia-Pacific economies closer but to serve his "America First" policy. Nor has he shown any interest in helping realize the FTAAP.

East Asian cooperation, too, faces new headwinds. The coexistence of multiple mechanisms, including the 18-member East Asia Summit, the 16-member RCEP, and the ASEAN Community based on economic, security and cultural coordination, at times subjects dialogues to meaningless disputes and haggles. It may be easier, however, to build an East Asian economic community since ASEAN members are already on that course and a trilateral FTA between China, Japan and the ROK is in the making.

Regional integration faces US challenge

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