FOS­TER­ING CHINA-US CO­OP­ER­A­TION

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By CHEN WEIHUA in Honolulu, Hawaii chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

For Charles Mor­ri­son, pres­i­dent of the East-West Cen­ter (EWC), co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the United States and China is es­sen­tial in tack­ling global prob­lems.

EWC is an ed­u­ca­tion and re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion that was es­tab­lished by the US Congress in 1960 to strengthen re­la­tions and un­der­stand­ing among the peo­ples and na­tions of Asia, the Pa­cific and the US.

In Mor­ri­son’s views, the US can­not do it alone any­more in a lot of ar­eas, and China is not en­vi­sioned to do it alone.

“But when we work to­gether, there is a lot more we can ac­com­plish,” he told China Daily in his of­fice on July 1.

Like many peo­ple in the two coun­tries and the world, Mor­ri­son cited the US agree­ment on cli­mate change as “a good ex­am­ple of how the US and China work to­gether, then we can pro­vide a much stronger im­pe­tus for the whole world”.

Sev­eral land­mark agree­ments reached by China and the US on cli­mate change since June 2013, when Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and USZ Pres­i­dent Barack Obama met in the Sun­ny­lands re­treat in Cal­i­for­nia, have been widely re­garded as in­stru­men­tal to the his­toric Paris Agree­ment signed last De­cem­ber by 195 coun­tries.

Mor­ri­son, an ex­pert on eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, be­lieves that China and the US are ap­proach­ing the same is­sues, such as the One Belt One Road (OBOR) and Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP), in dif­fer­ent ways.

The Amer­i­cans con­cen­trate on the le­gal frame­work, such as in mak­ing WTO and TPP very le­gal­is­tic agree­ments. But he said China fo­cuses on con­nec­tiv­ity, on build­ing things. “Both are good,” he said. While the ini­tial US op­po­si­tion to the China-led Asia In­fra­struc­ture Investment Bank (AIIB) has fur­ther re­in­forced the think­ing among many Chi­nese that the Amer­i­cans in­tend to cur­tail China’s rise, Mor­ri­son said the US was right to push for the stan­dards, but added that the US per­haps made a mis­take “to ap­pear to op­pose the whole idea (of AIIB)”.

De­spite Washington’s op­po­si­tion, vir­tu­ally all of its ma­jor al­lies in Europe and Asia ex­cept Ja­pan have joined the AIIB, which fo­cuses on badly needed in­fra­struc­ture-fi­nanc­ing in the re­gion.

The soft-spo­ken Mor­ri­son said that many Amer­i­cans aren’t too wor­ried about One Belt One Road.

“One Belt One Road in a sense may help sta­bi­lize some of the Cen­tral Asian states we are very wor­ried about,” he said.

Many thought-lead­ers, such as Robert Zoel­lick, the for­mer World Bank pres­i­dent and for­mer US deputy sec­re­tary of state, hold sim­i­lar views that China’s One Belt One Road ini­tia­tive also serves US in­ter­ests, and there­fore the US should co­op­er­ate more closely with China in the pro­gram.

Mor­ri­son be­lieves that as long as One Belt One Road op­er­ates on good prin­ci­ples, such as on en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, it could be pos­i­tive for the re­gion.

“I think the way Amer­i­cans and Chi­nese deal with each other should be very frank and blunt, but (they should) try to fig­ure out how to use our re­sources as best we can to co­op­er­ate in (ar­eas where) we have com­mon in­ter­ests, and over time, ex­pand those com­mon in­ter­ests,” he said.

As a sup­porter of TPP, Mor­ri­son has been dis­ap­pointed with the way US do­mes­tic pol­i­tics have played out, with Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump blast­ing the deal and Demo­cratic con­tender Hil­lary Clin­ton also say­ing it was one she would not have ne­go­ti­ated.

Mor­ri­son is pes­simistic about the prospect that the TPP, a free trade agree­ment among 12 Pa­cific Rim na­tions, will be ap­proved by the US Congress in a lame-duck ses­sion later this year, some­thing that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is mak­ing a des­per­ate last-ditch ef­fort to pass. “That won’t hap­pen,” he said.

Mor­ri­son, who has de­voted much of his life to re­gional eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion, called for pa­tience, and said re­gional in­te­gra­tion is a long-term process.

He be­lieves that China will con­tinue to work with the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) na­tions on a RCEP (Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship), but that even­tu­ally there will be some kind of agree­ment.

Many ex­perts be­lieve that TPP and RCEP will fi­nally evolve and merge into some­thing like the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pa­cific (FTAAP).

Mor­ri­son at­trib­uted the stance that Amer­i­cans be­lieve China is chal­leng­ing US hege­mony and dom­i­nance, as the Chi­nese be­lieve the US is try­ing to con­tain China, mostly to do­mes­tic pol­i­tics in the two na­tions.

He be­lieves the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship is held hostage by the two coun­tries’ gen­eral anx­i­ety about global is­sues. To the US, China is the face of glob­al­iza­tion, com­pared with Ja­pan decades ago. To China, the US is the most pow­er­ful coun­try in the world.

“We are all rel­a­tive to the rest of the world; we are all go­ing to be less pow­er­ful. ... That means we need more co­op­er­a­tion,” he said.

Mor­ri­son is equally pes­simistic that a Bi­lat­eral Investment Treaty (BIT) will be ap­proved by the US Congress any­time soon — if it’s ever even ne­go­ti­ated com­pletely — but he said it’s im­por­tant for the two coun­tries to con­tinue to ne­go­ti­ate and work hard “be­cause that’s the way we learn about each other’s prac­tices”.

He said he was glad that lead­ers of the two coun­tries have ad­dressed cy­ber­se­cu­rity and made progress on it, de­spite the fact that it re­mains an is­sue.

Mor­ri­son was heart­ened by the co­op­er­a­tion at the sub­na­tional level. When US state and Chi­nese pro­vin­cial of­fi­cials met in Hawaii two weeks ago, they did not dis­cuss a sin­gle neg­a­tive is­sue such as the South China Sea, but rather how to im­prove busi­ness re­la­tions.

“Ev­ery­body wants for­eign investment to their re­gion,” he said. “So at the lo­cal level, we see a kind of dif­fer­ent re­la­tion­ship than the one be­tween Washington and Bei­jing. That is an­other di­men­sion of the US-China re­la­tion­ship, one we try to con­tinue to cul­ti­vate.”

At the EWC, re­search fo­cuses pri­mar­ily on the en­tire re­gion rather than on a spe­cific coun­try, but Mor­ri­son ad­mit­ted that China’s rise has made it an es­sen­tial part­ner for vir­tu­ally ev­ery project.

“Most of the ac­tiv­i­ties here are about the re­gion, but I would say China is 80 per­cent of the re­gion some­time, for good or for bad,” he said, chuck­ling.

Be­sides the US, Ja­pan and the Philip­pines used to have more par­tic­i­pants than any other coun­try, but China is quickly catch­ing up.

“I think af­ter the US, China is prob­a­bly the coun­try with the most rep­re­sen­ta­tion in terms of par­tic­i­pants now,” he said. That in­cludes schol­ars, of­fi­cials, jour­nal­ists and stu­dents.

Mor­ri­son called Wu Jian­min, the for­mer Chi­nese se­nior diplo­mat who died on June 18 in a traf­fic ac­ci­dent, as “my very good friend”. He tweeted the news that day with deep sor­row for the death of Wu, who was a mem­ber of the EWC in­ter­na­tional ad­vi­sory panel.

Wu had al­ways been re­garded as the op­po­site of the more hard­line and na­tion­al­is­tic voices in China. Mor­ri­son ex­pressed con­cerns over a voice like that go­ing away.

China’s grow­ing role in EWC is re­flected in Mor­ri­son’s travel agenda. He is headed to China for the Eco Fo­rum Global Con­fer­ence 2016 in Guiyang, South­west China’s Guizhou prov­ince, from July 8-10.

He also will go to Yangzhou of East China’s Jiangsu prov­ince in late Septem­ber for the Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil meet­ing and then make an­other trip to China in Novem­ber. He has al­ready at­tended the Bao’ao Fo­rum on Hainan Is­land and a meet­ing on ed­u­ca­tion in Hangzhou, in East China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

“So this year I may go to China five times,” he said.

Un­der Mor­ri­son, the EWC has opened an of­fice in Washington and has a room in Bei­jing that is used for ac­tiv­i­ties in China but is still not staffed.

Mor­ri­son in­di­cated that it will now be the work of his suc­ces­sor to staff the Bei­jing of­fice. Hav­ing served as EWC’s pres­i­dent since 1998, he be­lieves it’s time to move on and for a new per­son to take over and lead the in­sti­tu­tion.

The EWC launched a global search early this year to pre­pare for Mor­ri­son’s re­tire­ment, which is ex­pected in Au­gust.

I think af­ter the US, China is prob­a­bly the coun­try with the most rep­re­sen­ta­tion in terms of par­tic­i­pants now.”

BIO

Charles Mor­ri­son, the long­est-serv­ing East-West Cen­ter pres­i­dent, will soon re­tire. He is a firm be­liever in China-US en­gage­ment and co­op­er­a­tion. CHARLES E. MOR­RI­SON Born: Billings, Mon­tana

Ed­u­ca­tion: • BA, in­ter­na­tional stud­ies, Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity, Bal­ti­more MA and PhD, Johns Hop­kins School of Ad­vanced In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies •

Ca­reer: • Pres­i­dent, East- West Cen­ter (Au­gust 1998 to present) Chair­man, Paci­fifi c Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil (PECC) (2005 - 2012) Found­ing Mem­ber, US Asia Paci­fifi c Coun­cil ( USAPC), East- West Cen­ter Washington. Direc­tor, Asia Pa­cific Eco­nomic Coun­cil (APEC), Study Cen­ter, and chair, US Con­sor­tium of APEC Study Cen­ters ( 1996- 1998). Direc­tor, pro­gram on in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics and eco­nom­ics, East- West Cen­ter (1992- 1995) Se­nior re­search as­so­ciate, Ja­pan Cen­ter for In­ter­na­tional Ex­change (JCIE), Tokyo, (half time from 1980- 84; and one quar­ter time from 1985- 1992) Leg­isla­tive as­sis­tant to Se­na­tor Wil­liam V. Roth Jr. ( 1972- 80) Pro­fes­sional lec­turer, Johns Hop­kins School of Ad­vanced In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies (1977- 1980) • • • • • • •

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