China, the US, and Asia-Pacific

Manila Bulletin, May 7, 2006 | Go to article overview

China, the US, and Asia-Pacific


Byline: Fidel Valdez Ramos

THE first state visit of China President Hu Jintao to the United States on 1923 April 2006, highlighted by the summit meeting with his US counterpart President George W. Bush, kicked off great expectations in the people of both superpowers, plus the rest of the Asia-Pacific region and the global community. It was, according to Newsweek: "A War of Wills," and the "Clash of the Titans." US analysts emphasized that the main issues would be:

* Peace and security, with human rights in the forefront because these could not be trampled under the label of fighting terrorism through crackdowns on peaceful expression of religious, cultural or ethnic identity, or unlawful detentions.

* Trade and finance, principally the floating of the yuan and correcting the US-China trade imbalance, plus the realities of the growing divides between the rich and the poor of China which threaten to undermine the sustainability and stability of her economic growth and reforms.

* Advancing freedoms, which may come under threat because of China's state-ofthe-art censorship and surveillance system, put in place with the help of foreign companies, including US information technology corporations.

Early on, however, Beijing Spokesman Qin Gang affirmed in the China Daily issue of 19 April that, "The Taiwan question is the most important and sensitive core issue in China-US relations." Also likely to be taken up, quoting China sources, were trade, intellectual property rights, and currency issues.

China's Macro-Policies. China claims to be actively pursuing balanced and harmonious development domestically while it promotes peaceful cooperation and opens up its economy to the world. As repeatedly pointed out by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, China's pursuit of peaceful development is determined by China's national conditions, rooted in China's history, tradition and culture, and in keeping with the global trend of development. They state that China is growing in strength and creating more opportunities for its neighbors and the global economy. Since it joined the WTO in 2001, China had imported close to 500 billion USD worth of goods annually, which created some 10 million jobs for other countries. Statistics show that China's imports from Asian countries totaled 440 billion USD in 2005, up by 20 percent year-on-year, accounting for 67 percent of China's total imports. Overseas investment by Chinese companies increased by over 20 percent annually over the period, with 80 percent of it done in Asia. In 2005, there were some 31 million foreign trips made by Chinese nationals, with Asia as the top choice of tourists from China's fast-growing middle class.

China's leaders recognize that as a large and responsible country, China is politically committed to help build a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity. Her development planners, therefore, aim to promote all-around and integrated progress in the economic, political, cultural, and social fields. In pursuing development, China's avowed policy is to achieve balanced growth in urban and rural areas, in coastal and inland regions, and in the economic and social sectors. Following the basic state policies of resources conservation and environmental protection, China hopes to achieve sustainable development and to build a resource-conserving and environmentally-friendly society, driven and backed up by reform and innovation.

China's engagement with its Asian neighbors. Last week at the 2006 Annual Conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), which I chaired, China's Vice President Zeng Qinghong reiterated China's long-term commitment to Asian intra-regional cooperation and in exploring effective ways to achieve mutual benefit and win-win outcomes for all Asian countries. China continues to pursue a new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation that seeks to strengthen political dialogue among Asian countries on the basis of the United Nations Charter and the "Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence" to enhance mutual trust; resolve disputes; narrow differences; expand common ground; and promote peace, security, and stability in the region. …

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