China looks to regional integration
With Nov gathering, Beijing to show its willingness to take on global initiatives
China is hoping the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in November, the first it will host in 13 years, will help “speed up” economic integration in the region and “bring it to a new level”.
The host has defined three priorities for the meeting: advancing regional economic integration; promoting innovative development, economic reform and growth; and strengthening comprehensive connectivity and infrastructure development, APEC officials said.
They made the remarks at this year’s Senior Officials’ Meeting, which held its opening ceremony on Thursday in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, and concludes on Friday, precedes the Economic Leaders’ Meeting, to be held on Nov 10 and 11 in Yanqi Lake, a resort town 50 km from downtown Beijing.
“The Asia-Pacific region needs to speed up regional economic integration and bring it to a new level.
We need to tackle bottlenecks, such as infrastructure development, and set up a regional framework of cooperation.” LI BAODONG VICE-MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
We need to tackle bottlenecks, such as infrastructure development, and set up a regional framework of cooperation,” Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Baodong said at the opening ceremony on Thursday.
The last time China hosted the top forum, in 2001 in Shanghai, it was the seventh-largest economy in the world, behind Italy.
The leaders’ meeting, using the theme “Shaping the future through Asia-Pacific partnership”, comes as China, now the world’s secondlargest economy, is seeking to expand its influence around the world and demonstrate it is willing and capable of taking on global initiatives. The nation will likely be taking steps at the APEC meeting to do so.
“This year, the global economy is showing signs of recovering with stronger growth momentum than before. At the same time, risks and uncertainties still exist. Reviving the global economy and maintaining its healthy growth is still a task filled with many challenges. APEC member economies play a great role in promoting global growth, and the economic performance of the region will have either a direct or indirect impact on the global economy,” Li said.
Alan Bollard, executive director of the APEC Secretariat, said negotiations on several major trade agreements are proceeding this year, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, but the majority of the partnerships around the globe focus on trade. APEC, he said, is “ultimately interested in improving human living conditions and economic welfare”.
“China this year decided it wants to focus on innovative growth, sustainable growth, urbanization, green development,” he said.
Ana Novik, director of multilateral economic affairs in Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Relations’ Directorate for International Economic Relations, attended meetings on Thursday and said that unlike the World Trade Organization, APEC is an ongoing forum for dialogue.
“But when you have a major economy like China as the host, you have the opportunity to highlight some elements that are important for you, and this is what China is doing,” she said.
“For example, as China is a major trader, it can emphasize trade facilitation and make some strong statements there.”
Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Baodong (center left) attends the APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, on Thursday.