China to renew free trade commitment
President Xi Jinping to attend APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, CEO Summit
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Although Trump’s attendance shows US support for the APEC platform, given the fact that the US has withdrawn from the TPP, it is unlikely for Trump to show support for other regional trade pacts such as the FTAAP, which is a major obstacle in APEC’s development, Bai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.
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.