Building an East Asia Partnership of Win-Win Cooperation

China International Studies, Jan/Feb 2015 | 作者: Liu Zhenmin | 时间: 2015-05-27 | 责编: 李敏捷
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Over the past 70 years since the end of World War II, one of the leading trends in global geopolitics has been the rising role of the Asia-Pacific region. East Asia became the third pillar of the global economy together with Europe and North America.

In the past decades, the East Asia region has been moving from conflict to peace, from confrontation to cooperation and from poverty to prosperity though some legacy left over from the Cold War still remains. Looking around the world, East Asia is a region of hope and serves as an important driver for global growth.

The rise of East Asia is part of a larger story of rejuvenation of Asia. Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, Southeast Asian countries have been rising as a group. They took an active part in globalization and achieved common development. This has contributed to greater democratization of international relations, more even balance of power and stronger foundation for peace and stability in the region.

East Asian countries have found a path of development that suits them well and provides a solid basis for tackling challenges.

East Asia has remained an open and inclusive region, where regional cooperation and economic integration is moving forward. ASEAN will set up the very first sub-regional community in Asia this year. And vibrant multilateral frameworks such as ASEAN+1, ASEAN + China, Japan and the ROK, China-Japan-ROK cooperation and the EAS have brought the region closer together.

Furthermore, East Asian countries successfully fostered a model of cooperation that calls for mutual respect, consensus building, win-win, and accommodating the comfort level of all parties. These principles are gained through efforts to maintain friendly relations and properly manage differences. They also provide valuable experience for sustaining the prosperity and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.

Compared with Europe, East Asia is defined by its diversity in political systems, religions, culture, historical traditions and level of development. As we see from the East Asian experience, those who share the same vision and values are partners; those who seek common ground while shelving differences can also be partners. At the Bandung Conference six decades ago, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai proposed that Asian nations seek common ground while shelving differences and pursue peaceful coexistence. This principle has served Asia well in the past 60 years.

In my humble view, the key to continued prosperity and stability of East Asia lies in embracing the spirit of cooperation for win-win results.

First, political equality is the basis for win-win cooperation. Countries, big or small, rich or poor, all have the right to choose their own model of development. No country should impose its own model on others.

Major countries should perceive each other’s strategic intentions in a rational way. China has been working with the US to build a new model of major-country relationship based on no-conflict, no-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. Both sides are committed to strengthening cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination has shown a strong momentum. This relationship is based on non-alignment, and not targetting any third party. China is ready to further develop its strategic relationship of mutual benefit with Japan on the basis of the four political documents between the two sides.

Medium and small countries should not have to take sides, nor should major countries seek to establish spheres of influence. Regional affairs should be handled through equal consultations. They can no longer be dominated by any one country or bloc of countries.

Second, economic integration is the foundation for win-win cooperation. ASEAN and China, Japan and ROK formulated a vision for an East Asia Economic Community by 2020. The RCEP and the China-Japan-Korea FTA negotiations will go a long way to fulfilling this vision.

East Asia regional cooperation, as part of Asia-Pacific cooperation, is a good complement to APEC. Asia-Pacific countries should embrace open regionalism and align their development across the Pacific. TPP and RCEP can be pursued in a coordinated way. They both contribute to the building of an Asia-Pacific FTA. Countries should also promote connectivity of infrastructure, policy-making and of people, to weave a strong network of connectivity in the Asia-Pacific region.

China proposed the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road initiatives and setting up of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to promote regional economic integration. These initiatives are open and inclusive, and follow international rules and norms. They will be implemented through consultation, sharing and joint undertaking with interested partners. Existing regional frameworks will be utilized as much as possible.

Third, common security provides a major safeguard for win-win cooperation. In the 21st century, we should no longer work on the premise of a zero-sum game between the East and the West. Our security is all tied together. Common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security should be pursued. From the so-called Arab Spring to the “Color Revolutions” in Central Asia to the crisis in Ukraine, there should be some deep reflection by the countries concerned. Similar occurrences should not happen in East Asia.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Historical perception will be a major issue that bears on the future of the Asia-Pacific. History is never to be denied, still less falsified. Only by facing up to history can one look to the future. Germany has set a shining example in this regard. Any departure from the road of peaceful development will bring disastrous outcomes. The relevant countries should learn from this example and not let the historical issue be a strategic burden in the Asia-Pacific.

In contrast to Europe, it would be difficult for the Asia Pacific to put in place a unified security system in the near future. Europe’s experience can be a useful reference but not transplanted in the building of a security architecture for the Asia Pacific region.

The Asia-Pacific is home to a range of multilateral security frameworks, such as the ASEAN-led forums, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Six Party Talks. These frameworks generally follow the principles of common and cooperative security, and are inclusive. Their influence has been growing. They represent the direction of regional security cooperation.

East Asia faces territorial and maritime disputes, which bear on the fundamental interests and national feelings of relevant countries. The most effective way to address these disputes is consultations or negotiations by countries directly concerned on the basis of respecting international law and historical facts. Outside intervention will only complicate the situation. Countries should maintain dialogue and effectively manage disputes, so that small incidents will not affect the bigger region.

In East Asia there are also bilateral military alliances. Security cooperation and economic integration in the region should reinforce each other. It is our hope that these alliances will advance with the times, and cooperate more with multilateral security frameworks, to jointly contribute to building a security architecture that meets the needs of all sides.

The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is key to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. Parties concerned should show sincerity, and take a more flexible and pragmatic approach to restart the Six-Party Talks as early as possible. China supports a nuclear-free Peninsula, peace and stability on the Peninsula, and peaceful resolution through dialogue and consultation.

The most real security risk for East Asia actually comes from non-traditional fields. We need to work together to fight natural disasters, terrorism, transnational crimes and challenges from cyber space. Closer cooperation in these areas will help lay the foundation for a security architecture in the region.

As a major country, China is fully aware that its peace and development is closely tied to that of the Asia Pacific region. We are ready to work with countries in the region to forge an East Asia partnership of win-win cooperation and together build an Asia-Pacific of lasting prosperity and stability.


(Source: China Internation Studies, January/February 2015, page 20-24)

[1] Liu Zhenmin is Vice Foreign Minister of China. He delivered the remarks at the Panel Discussion of “Asia-Pacific Geopolitics: Pow(d)er Keg?” at the Munich Security Conference on February 6, 2015.