Re­gional co­op­er­a­tion recipe for suc­cess

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

The high-pro­file meet­ings among the world’s top lead­ers this month— from theNov 5-11 APEC con­fer­ence in Beijing to the G20 sum­mit in Bris­bane onNov 15-16— have raised hopes of find­ing so­lu­tions to the ris­ing tra­di­tional and non-tra­di­tional se­cu­rity prob­lems across the globe, as well as the geopo­lit­i­cal is­sues aris­ing out of the Ukraine cri­sis.

The Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and the Group of 20 may dif­fer in their per­cep­tions of global and re­gional gov­er­nance, but they share a num­ber of sim­i­lar­i­ties when it comes to their long-term goals and func­tions, with the common prin­ci­ple be­ing non­bind­ing co­op­er­a­tion and agree­ment.

APEC is ded­i­cated to build­ing a pan-Pa­cific free trade zone, in which the free flow of prod­ucts, ser­vices and cap­i­tal will re­place tra­di­tional trade and lift in­vest­ment bar­ri­ers. Like­wise, in a broader sense, the G20 aims to achieve strong, bal­anced and sus­tain­able growth in the world econ­omy de­spite hav­ing mem­bers from as di­verse eco­nomic and ge­o­graph­i­cal re­gions as the Euro­pean Union and Latin Amer­ica.

Specif­i­cally, G20’s 2 per­cent ex­tra GDP growth tar­get is one of APEC’s pri­or­i­ties in re­gional eco­nomic growth. In­fra­struc­ture is another common trait the two or­ga­ni­za­tions share; the G20 aims to build high­qual­ity in­fra­struc­ture across the world while the APEC Fi­nanceM­i­nis­ters’Meet­ing in Beijing last month is­sued a blue­print for pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship (PPP) for in­fra­struc­ture build­ing. Ac­cord­ing to APEC’s pro­posal, all mem­bers should set up their sep­a­rate PPP cen­ters, which can as­sess in­fra­struc­ture projects and have ac­cess to enough funds to com­plete the projects. Fi­nanc­ing such projects will be the func­tion of or­ga­ni­za­tions like the China-pro­posed Asia In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank, which is ex­pected to start op­er­at­ing soon as its 21 found­ing mem­bers, in­clud­ing Qatar and In­dia, have al­ready signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing.

In terms of fi­nan­cial su­per­vi­sion, the G20 lends more weight to its agenda whereas APEC fo­cuses on pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial ser­vices to real re­gional economies. And while the G20 con­trib­utes to the global tax­a­tion sys­tem by putting for­ward in­ter­na­tional tax mea­sures, APEC fo­cuses on re­com­bin­ing fis­cal and tax poli­cies.

Be­sides, the in­creas­ing prob­lems caused by cli­mate change are of high con­cern to both or­ga­ni­za­tions. In fact, mem­bers of both APEC and G20 have in­cluded green and sus­tain­able growth in their mul­ti­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion strate­gies.

In­deed, Aus­tralia, host of the G20 Sum­mit, has pledged to support the Beijing-pro­moted Free Trade Area for the Asia-Pa­cific and AIIB, which will boost APEC-G20 syn­er­gies. Yet the de­mand im­bal­ance in de­vel­oped and de­vel­op­ing economies is still a cause for con­cern for both groups. In pro­mot­ing con­nec­tiv­ity, for ex­am­ple, ad­vanced economies pay more at­ten­tion to in­sti­tu­tional con­nec­tiv­ity while de­vel­op­ing ones fo­cus more on “hard­ware” con­nec­tiv­ity such as rail­ways and roads.

More­over, both the G20 and APEC, which used to pri­or­i­tize eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion, are be­gin­ning to take on the ex­tra re­spon­si­bil­ity of deal­ing with po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity is­sues. And since the ex­tra func­tion re­quires bet­ter re­gional and global gov­er­nance, it poses a chal­lenge to many mem­bers, es­pe­cially the ma­jor pow­ers, in re­gard to strate­gic de­ploy­ment.

China’s role at the APEC and G20 meet­ings is ex­pected to make a world of dif­fer­ence. The coun­try’s lead­ers have vis­ited many coun­tries, es­pe­cially China’s neigh­bors, to pro­mote eco­nomic ties and help re­solve dif­fi­cult is­sues. Also, by lead­ing or host­ing sev­eral ma­jor transna­tional events, in­clud­ing the Con­fer­ence on In­ter­ac­tion and Con­fi­dence Build­ingMea­sures in Asia in­May and the APEC con­fer­ence, Beijing seems more prag­matic and de­ter­mined to push for the co-ex­is­tence of dif­fer­ent re­gional co­op­er­a­tion mech­a­nisms.

But Beijing should be aware that its ev­ery diplo­matic move could evoke a strong re­sponse from some coun­tries. In other words, overly ac­tive diplo­macy is very likely to be in­ter­preted as “Chi­nese hege­mony”, which seeks to al­ter the ex­ist­ing re­gional or­der.

To let its ac­com­plish­ments speak louder, there­fore, China should keep on con­tribut­ing to global gov­er­nance. Nev­er­the­less, one thing is for sure, the re­gional co­op­er­a­tion in the Asia-Pa­cific is ir­re­versible, and China re­mains com­mit­ted to it. The au­thor is a re­searcher at the Na­tional In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Strat­egy, Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.


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