Op-Ed Contributors

New era in Northeast Asia

By Wu Huaizhong (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-06-01 07:48
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Blueprint for cooperation among China, Japan and South Korea is an indicator of peace and booming trade

The annual summit between leaders of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) concluded on Sunday, mapping out a blueprint for tripartite cooperation by 2020.

At the two-day summit in the ROK's resort island of Jeju, the third of its kind, Premier Wen Jiabao, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and ROK President Lee Myung-bak made rapid strides in efforts to elevate the trilateral relationship to a new level, improve the mechanism of, and deepen, regional cooperation.

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The three neighbors agreed to set up a secretariat in the ROK next year for further trilateral cooperation and discuss the possibility of a defense consultative mechanism between the three to strengthen their security dialogue.

In addition, the leaders of the three Asian neighbors also vowed to increase high-level exchanges, enhance friendship between their peoples and boost cooperation in police services.

For the sake of a sustainable economy and common prosperity, leaders of the three countries agreed on a joint feasibility study to explore a Free Trade Area, due to be concluded by 2012, and expand their trade volumes.

At the same time, efforts are to be made to improve the trade and investment environment, oppose protectionism, strengthen scientific and technological innovation and push for policy consultation in the fields of industry and energy, environmental protection, climate and food safety.

At the meeting, the three leaders also said they would continue to push for the implementation of a declaration inked at the Six-Party Talks on September 19, 2005, which committed the three countries and the US, Russia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) - the other three parties in the dialogue mechanism - to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula in a peaceful and verifiable manner, and strengthen cooperation and consultation on regional and international affairs in a bid to promote peace and prosperity in Asia and tackle issues arising out of globalization.

The planned establishment of a secretariat next year symbolizes a milestone move by China, Japan and the ROK to accelerate tripartite cooperation.

The possibility of trilateral dialogue on defense affairs is also expected to fill the vacuum in current strategic cooperation between the three neighbors.

Compared with their mushrooming cooperation in the economic and trade spheres, much slower progress has been made in their push for strategic conciliation and enhanced mutual trust.

At the same time, the commitment to a free trade area is also expected to promote multi-level cooperation between the three neighbors and serve as a strong driving force for regional economic growth.

The high degree of concern expressed by the three leaders at the summit over the situation in the Korean Peninsula, which has deteriorated due to the escalating dispute between the two Koreas after the sinking of a ROK warship, is a welcome sign and is expected to aid lasting peace and security in East Asia.

Despite remarkable progress in deepening trilateral cooperation, some hurdles remain that are difficult to surmount on the path toward integrated cooperation.

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