HONG KONG — As the year of 2017 is coming to an end, the Asia-Pacific has remained as the most dynamic region in the world despite a host of challenges, including security threats, a rising trend of de-globalization and an anemic economic recovery.
In 2007, the Asia-Pacific region has continued to serve as the “locomotive” of global economic growth as it is accelerating the process of regional integration and building a community with a shared future for mankind.
China, with its concept of win-win cooperation and a slew of feasible, practical solutions, has helped manage and resolve regional hot spot issues, and spurred economic development in the Asia-Pacific region.
“BALLAST” FOR REGIONAL PEACE, STABILITY
The Asia-Pacific region, which accounts for 40 percent of the world’s population and 60 percent of the global GDP, is faced with severe security challenges, including the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and territorial or maritime disputes.
To realize lasting peace and stability in the region, China has taken concrete actions to help ease tension and stabilize regional situation.
China issued a white paper entitled “China’s Policies on Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation” for the first time this year, outlining China’s concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, which was in distinct contrast to the out-of-date security concepts of the Western world such as the Cold War mentality, zero-sum game and military force worship.
During the 16th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in June, many participants expressed the view that China’s new security concepts would be very important for tackling various challenges in the Asia-Pacific region.
Tensions in the South China Sea has been eased thanks to unremitting efforts from China and related parties.
In November, Chinese and ASEAN leaders agreed to start consultations on the text of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, setting a new starting point of building a peaceful and prosperous sea together.
The Korean Peninsula has been at swords’ points this year, with the nuclear test of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and multiple US-the Republic of Korea (ROK) joint military drills.
To calm down the nerves, China has proposed a political solution based on a suspension-for-suspension proposal and dual-track approach.
The suspension-for-suspension initiative calls for the DPRK to suspend its nuclear and missile activities and urges the United States and the ROK to suspend their large-scale war games, while the dual-track approach involves parallel efforts to move forward both denuclearization and the establishment of a peace mechanism on the Korea Peninsula. The Chinese proposal has won extensive support from the international community.
LEADING ROLE IN BUILDING COMMUNITY WITH SHARED FUTURE IN ASIA-PACIFIC
The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October reiterated promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, a concept which has won applause from the international community.
In fact, the concept of the China-ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) community of a shared future and the community of a shared future in the Asia-Pacific is becoming a reality with the commencement of such flagship infrastructure projects as the Jakarta-Bandung railway, the China-Laos railway and the Colombo Port City project.
Many countries have begun to achieve early-stage harvests from the building of a community with shared future, showing its practical and demonstration effects.
For example, the China-Myanmar crude oil and gas pipeline, a pioneer project of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, has brought tangible benefits to Myanmar.
The oil pipeline has a designed annual transport capacity of 22 million tons, while the natural gas pipeline has a designed annual transport capacity of 13 billion cubic meters. The crude oil pipeline was put into operation in April 2017, and the gas pipeline went into full operation in 2013.
The China-Myanmar crude oil and gas pipeline has effectively driven the development of Myanmar’s petrochemical production, raised the degree of local industrialization and electrification, promoted its socioeconomic development and created jobs for the locals.
Bernard Goonetilleke, chairman of Sri Lanka’s think tank Pathfinder Foundation, said that as early as more than 2,000 years ago, Chinese thinkers dreamed of “great unity in the whole world,” and now the idea of building a community of shared future for mankind is making the dream come true.
Besides, China’s vision of a community with shared future charts a course for the integration of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum as APEC economies pledged to foster a shared future of a peaceful, stable, dynamic, interconnected and prosperous Asia-Pacific community at the 25th APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in Vietnam.
BACKBONE OF REGIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION
While Europe is faced with difficulties in economic integration due to Brexit, the Asia-Pacific region, led by China, is moving fast on economic integration, injecting strong impetus to the otherwise frustrated process of globalization.
At the regional level, China’s vigorous promotion of economic integration played a backbone role. A telling example is the construction of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), a strategic initiative critical for long-term prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.
Professor Fariborz Moshirian, director of the Institute of Global Finance at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, has said what China has done in terms of feasibility studies for free trade and its attempt to be more inclusive should be welcomed.
At the subregional level, China has proposed advancing the construction of an East Asia Economic Community and drawn the outline of a road map for achieving it.
Integration between ASEAN and China has also been making solid progress. In November, the two sides issued a joint statement on further strengthening interconnectivity, and agreed to align the Belt and Road Initiative with the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025.
This was the first time in ASEAN’s 50-year history that the regional bloc’s development strategy is aligned with that of China, which is expected to unleash huge potential for economic integration between them.
As an old saying in China goes, only heart-to-heart exchanges can last long. China has embarked on a new expedition of building a community with shared future for mankind. A China with stronger development momentum and more shared interests with the world will surely contribute more to the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large.
The Belt and Road Initiative, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was brought up by President Xi Jinping in 2013, with the aim of building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes.