Time for NE Asia to steer re­gional growth by co­op­er­a­tion

Global Times - - Front Page -

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping gave an im­por­tant speech dur­ing the fourth Eastern Eco­nomic Fo­rum (EEF), where he em­pha­sized two key­words: “North­east Asia” and “Far East.” The speech has drawn en­thu­si­as­tic re­sponse.

Co­her­ent with the theme of the fo­rum, “The Far East: Ex­pand­ing the Range of Pos­si­bil­i­ties,” Xi’s speech has greatly broad­ened peo­ple’s un­der­stand­ing of the op­por­tu­ni­ties and co­op­er­a­tion in North­east Asia. Xi’s re­marks have also ex­pounded the prin­ci­ples and the im­por­tance for coun­tries to jointly pro­mote peace and sta­bil­ity to achieve de­vel­op­ment and pros­per­ity.

North­east Asia has a very broad po­ten­tial for eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion. As one of the most eco­nom­i­cally vi­brant re­gions in the world, the re­gion pos­sesses a va­ri­ety of el­e­ments for ex­ten­sive de­vel­op­ment, such as tech­nol­ogy, var­i­ous mar­kets, la­bor, and nat­u­ral re­sources. Coun­tries in North­east Asia have their own ad­van­tages, which could com­ple­ment each other.

Although North­east Asia al­ready par­tic­i­pates in bi­lat­eral and sub-re­gional co­op­er­a­tion, it still has much room for fur­ther­ing co­op­er­a­tion and ex­plor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

In com­par­i­son to South­east Asia, the over­all eco­nomic strength of North­east Asia has over­whelm­ing ad­van­tages, but the level of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion is not as high as South­east Asia. There are sev­eral dif­fer­ent rea­sons as to why this is true. The Korean Penin­sula is­sue, also known as the “liv­ing fos­sil” of the Cold War, is still lin­ger­ing. North­east Asia is also the area that the US has cho­sen to carry out its geopo­lit­i­cal games. Ad­di­tion­ally, other is­sues, such as the dif­fer­ence in value, ter­ri­to­rial is­sues, marine de­mar­ca­tion, and dis­putes left over from WWII, have hin­dered eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion of the re­gion.

Thank­fully, there seems to be a sea change for co­op­er­a­tion that will fa­vor North­east Asia. Although there are big eco­nomic pow­ers in the area, they are coun­tries that main­tain rel­a­tively ra­tio­nal strate­gic re­straint and keep a dis­tance from the con­cept of “ex­pan­sion.”

Most bi­lat­eral re­la­tions in North­east Asia are on the right track of im­prove­ment. Specif­i­cally, the im­prove­ment of China-Japan re­la­tion­ship will cer­tainly in­flu­ence the over­all at­mos­phere of the re­gion. Ad­di­tion­ally, the ten­sion on the Korea Penin­sula has been greatly eased, thanks to the re­cent sum­mits.

The po­lit­i­cal con­sen­sus for strength­en­ing re­gional co­op­er­a­tion is hap­pen­ing at a slow, but steady pace. Af­ter pre­vi­ously ex­pe­ri­enc­ing var­i­ous con­flicts, the re­gion has shifted to more po­lit­i­cal so­bri­ety. All coun­tries in the re­gion now share a strong desire to ad­here to com­mon de­vel­op­ment and pros­per­ity. They do not want to face dis­putes in a con­fronta­tional man­ner, and all of them op­pose trade pro­tec­tion­ism and uni­lat­er­al­ism.

The biggest force that has hin­dered co­op­er­a­tion in North­east Asia comes from out­side fac­tors. The US treats Japan and South Korea as al­lies and is known for its hos­tile po­si­tion against North Korea. The US also views China and Rus­sia as strate­gic op­po­nents.

It would be wrong if we still blame the in­abil­ity to in­sti­tu­tion­al­ize the con­cept of the North­east Asian Eco­nomic Cir­cle, which was pro­posed in the 1980s, on all ex­ter­nal forces. There are sev­eral suc­cess­ful ex­am­ples of bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion in North­east Asia and mul­ti­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion has also made progress in the area, which has also over­come many ob­sta­cles like the dif­fer­ence in scale of na­tions and ide­olo­gies. There are pos­si­bil­i­ties for more mul­ti­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion to ei­ther over­come or avoid these ob­sta­cles for fur­ther pro­gres­sion.

Although the mul­ti­lat­eral re­gions and sub­re­gions in North­east Asia may need more coura­geous at­tempts for co­op­er­a­tion, each step for­ward will in­crease con­fi­dence and mu­tual trust, grad­u­ally form­ing a “snow­ball” ef­fect and chang­ing the over­all land­scape of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion. Once the sit­u­a­tion is formed, it will in turn con­trib­ute new thrust to solv­ing po­lit­i­cal prob­lems in the re­gion.

Rus­sia’s Far East re­gion is an im­por­tant part of North­east Asia, and its re­source ad­van­tages pro­vide an ir­re­place­able guar­an­tee for fu­ture pros­per­ity in the re­gion. Through deep in­te­gra­tion into the con­struc­tion of the North­east Asian Eco­nomic Cir­cle, the Far East re­gion is likely to be­come Rus­sia’s new eco­nomic growth epi­cen­ter.

Xi’s words clearly demon­strate Bei­jing’s good­will and sin­cer­ity in pro­mot­ing co­op­er­a­tion in the North­east Asia re­gion. China’s in­creas­ing mar­ket size and de­vel­op­ment mo­men­tum will surely pro­vide en­ergy for co­op­er­a­tion in the area and brighten the fu­ture of North­east Asia.

The ar­ti­cle is an ed­i­to­rial of the Global Times Thurs­day. opin­ion@glob­al­times. com.cn

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