China to renew free trade com­mit­ment

President Xi Jin­ping to at­tend APEC Eco­nomic Lead­ers’ Meet­ing, CEO Sum­mit

Global Times - Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Bai Tiantian

In con­trast to US President Don­ald Trump’s pro­tec­tion­ist stance, China will reaf­firm its com­mit­ment to a free and mul­ti­lat­eral trade sys­tem when Chi­nese President Xi Jin­ping at­tends the 25th Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (APEC) Eco­nomic Lead­ers’ Meet­ing in Viet­nam next week, an­a­lysts said.

China’s For­eign Min­istry an­nounced Fri­day that Xi will visit Viet­nam and Laos from Novem­ber 10 to 14. He will at­tend the APEC meet­ing in Da Nang from Novem­ber 10 to 11. Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Li Baodong said Fri­day Xi will de­liver a speech at the APEC CEO Sum­mit.

Xi will also at­tend the APEC Busi­ness Ad­vi­sory

Coun­cil Di­a­logue with APEC Eco­nomic Lead­ers and the APEC-ASEAN In­for­mal Di­a­logue.

Li said APEC 2017 has three goals: to safe­guard the general di­rec­tion of the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion’s open­ness and devel­op­ment, to find new po­ten­tial and im­pe­tus for the re­gion’s devel­op­ment, and to de­velop a new plan for co­op­er­a­tion be­yond 2020.

“We hope var­i­ous sides can jointly push for a free and more con­ve­nient trade and in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment, pro­mote the con­struc­tion of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pa­cific (FTAAP), sup­port a mul­ti­lat­eral trade sys­tem… and in­ject pos­i­tive en­ergy to an open econ­omy,” Li said at the Fri­day press con­fer­ence.

Trump will also at­tend the APEC meet­ing and ad­dress the APEC CEO Sum­mit.

Trump pulled the US out of the 12-na­tion Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP) and is known for his “Amer­ica First” stance, and fa­vors bi­lat­eral trade ties over mul­ti­lat­eral trade agree­ments.

Al­though Trump’s at­ten­dance shows US sup­port for the APEC plat­form, given the fact that the US has with­drawn from the TPP, it is un­likely for Trump to show sup­port for other re­gional trade pacts such as the FTAAP, which is a ma­jor ob­sta­cle in APEC’s devel­op­ment, Bai Ming, a re­search fel­low at the Chi­nese Academy of In­ter­na­tional Trade and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion, told the Global Times on Fri­day.

De­spite the stalling of the FTAAP, Bai said some in­terim goals can be achieved such as cross-bor­der e-com­merce and tar­iffs.

“In con­trast, China will con­tinue to play a pos­i­tive role in the APEC plat­form, reaf­firm­ing its com­mit­ment to a mul­ti­lat­eral trade sys­tem,” Bai said.

Fruit­ful sched­ule

Aside from APEC, Xi will make State vis­its to Viet­nam and Laos from Novem­ber 12 to 14 at the invitation of Nguyen Phu Trong, general sec­re­tary of the Com­mu­nist Party of the Viet­nam Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, Viet­namese President Tran Dai Quang, and Bounnhang Vo­ra­chit, general sec­re­tary of the Lao Peo­ple’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Party Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and president of Laos, the Xinhua News Agency re­ported.

As­sis­tant For­eign Min­is­ter Chen Xiaodong said Fri­day that Xi’s State vis­its to Viet­nam and Laos will usher in a “new era of neigh­bor­hood diplo­macy with Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics.”

“De­spite fric­tion be­tween China and Viet­nam over the South China Sea dis­putes in the past few years, bi­lat­eral re­la­tions are show­ing signs of im­prove­ment this year,” said Xu Lip­ing, a re­search fel­low on Southeast Asian af­fairs at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sci­ences.

Both Nguyen Phu Trong and Tran Dai Quang vis­ited China this year.

Xu said ties be­tween the Com­mu­nist Part of China and the Com­mu­nist Party of Viet­nam serve as the “bal­last stone” in bi­lat­eral ties as lead­ers of both par­ties have agreed to avoid open con­flict and re­solve the dis­putes through di­a­logue.

Dur­ing his visit to Viet­nam, Xi will meet Nguyen Phu Trong, Tran Dai Quang, Prime Min­is­ter Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Na­tional Assem­bly Chair­per­son Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan.

Chen said the two coun­tries will sign deals in en­ergy and ca­pac­ity co­op­er­a­tion, in­fra­struc­ture, the con­struc­tion of cross-bor­der eco­nomic zones, and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive and the “Two Cor­ri­dors and One Ring” ini­tia­tive.

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