No hidden agenda behind China bid to boost cooperation with S. Korea,Japan

2015-10-31 19:21

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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye are scheduled to meet here on Sunday for the sixth the trilateral summit between the three countries to address issues of regional interest.

The meeting, resumed after a three-and-half-year suspension, marks a laudable step to boost cooperation in Northeast Asia, but may unnerve the United States, which is an ally of Japan and South Korea and has long exerted a strong influence in the region.

Washington's worries are understandable, but it should be reminded that broken ties among the three neighbors harm regional peace and prosperity, and will in turn undermine American interests.

China, Japan and South Korea are leading economies in the world, whose GDP ranked the 2nd, 3rd and 14th respectively in 2014. Building stronger business and trade ties among them is important for boosting economic vitality and improving people's livelihood. Not long ago, China and South Korea inked a landmark free trade agreement. Premier Li's ongoing visit to South Korea is expected to speed up the implementation of the pact.

A potential trilateral FTA among China, South Korea and Japan has been under negotiation since 2012, and remains high on the agenda of this summit. Economic integration is vital to regional peace and stability.

Bilateral ties between China and South Korea are at their best in history. China-Japan tensions over history issues and island disputes have also eased since late last year. Despite internal and external hindrances, the three neighbors recognize the necessity to promote political mutual trust. People-to-people exchanges have also hit record high. China-South Korean mutual visits exceeded 10 million in 2014, while visits among the three nations topped 20 million.

Building a closer Northeast Asia is a natural and necessary choice. China remains a large developing country and shares vast room for win-win cooperation with South Korea and Japan.

Beijing's Belt and Road initiative and the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank offer a practical platform for deepening economic cooperation with its neighbors. South Korea has made economy its primary policy target for 2015, trying to prop up growth through innovation.

The Abe administration in Japan also stresses economy and social welfare. Smooth cooperation between China, South Korea and Japan is indispensable to peace and prosperity in East Asia as the three countries account for about 90 percent of the total economic output in the region.

As major regional players, they must shoulder the responsibility to maintain positive interaction and set a good example for regional cooperation. The resumption of the trilateral summit provides a good opportunity to affirm the importance of building a strong political foundation for trilateral cooperation, which in fact is still at an early stage.

In 2008, leaders of the three countries took a crucial step and met for the first time outside the framework of the ASEAN+3 leaders meeting. No temporary challenges should have disrupted this cooperation mechanism.

The upcoming summit should serve as a turning point in trilateral cooperation. Hopefully all the three countries will work hard to clear the obstacles for regional reconciliation and cooperation so as to build a more stable Northeast Asia.

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