Chinese President Xi Jinping said his Asia-Pacific dream was based on a “shared destiny” for the region and incorporated peace, development and mutual benefits.
President Xi Jinping offered the world a vision of a Chinese-driven “Asia-Pacific dream” on Sunday (Nov 9), as Beijing hosts a regional gathering that underlines its growing global clout. “We have the responsibility to create and realise an Asia-Pacific dream for the people of the region,” the Chinese Communist chief told a gathering of business and political leaders that precedes the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ gathering.
The 21-member APEC includes 40 per cent of the world’s population, almost half its trade, and more than half its GDP, and the summit will be attended by leaders including US President Barack Obama, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
It will see Beijing push its preferred Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), while Washington is driving its own Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is seen as the economic element of the much-touted US “rebalance” to Asia and so far brings together 12 APEC nations including Japan and Australia – but not China.
APEC ministers agreed at the weekend to launch a “strategic study” on FTAAP. But Michael Froman, the US Trade Representative, told reporters on Sunday: “It’s not the launch of a new organisation, it’s not the launch of a new FTA.” FTAAP, he said, was a “long-term aspiration” to be achieved through other existing negotiations such as TPP, which was “clearly” the priority for the world’s biggest economy.
A draft of the final APEC summit communique seen by AFP refers to “the eventual realisation” of the FTAAP. But whether the leaders will endorse the so-called “Beijing Roadmap” towards the FTAAP remained unclear.
LIVE IN HARMONY
Xi said his Asia-Pacific dream was based on a “shared destiny” for the region and incorporated peace, development and mutual benefits. As “China’s overall national strength grows”, he told his audience, it would be able and willing to offer “new initiatives and visions for enhancing regional cooperation”. “China wants to live in harmony with all its neighbours,” he added.
China was expected to invest more than US$1.25 trillion abroad over the next decade, while outbound Chinese tourists would exceed 500 million over the next five years, Xi said. “For the Asia-Pacific and the world at large, China’s development will generate huge opportunities and benefits and hold lasting and infinite promise,” he said.
But Beijing is embroiled in enduring territorial disputes with Tokyo over islands in the East China Sea, and with rival claimants to the South China Sea. Under Xi, it has been asserting its claims more firmly in both areas.
Relations with Japan have plunged in recent years with both sides sending ships and aircraft to the islands, which are controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing, raising fears of clashes. Hopes of a formal meeting between Xi and Abe on the sidelines of the summit have risen on the back of an agreement by the two countries to try to improve relations.
But Japanese officials say that the key sentence in their statement was “very carefully written” to avoid Tokyo formally acknowledging that there was a dispute on sovereignty over the islands. “We did not give in to the Chinese demand,” one official said.
Obama left Washington on Sunday, with the White House saying he was expected to have “candid and in-depth conversations” with Xi. The relationship between the two superpowers has been marred by tensions over the South China Sea, trade disputes, cyberspying and human rights issues.
Since taking office nearly two years ago Xi has regularly spoken of the “Chinese dream”, an unspecified but much-discussed term with connotations of resurgence, and he has spoken of “the revitalisation of the Chinese nation”. China’s rise has been a source of both promise and anxiety among neighbours keen to share in its economic growth yet wary of its territorial intentions.
Beijing – a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council – has been looking to leverage the decades-long boom that has made it the world’s second-largest economy to increase its regional and global heft. But it is reluctant to become embroiled in conflicts elsewhere and consistently stresses a policy of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs – a stance that has enabled it to do business with leaders seen as pariahs in West.
Source : Channel News Asia | November 9, 2014