Community of common destiny key to building Asian future

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOAO, Hainan  |   2015-03-27 14:10:19

 

Community of common destiny

key to building Asian future

 

By Li Laifang, Guo Xinfeng and Fang Dong

 

 

Leaders of Asian countries need to adopt a “community of common destiny” mindset when dealing with global and regional challenges in order to build a new future of sustainable peace and prosperity.

The ongoing annual conference organized by the non-governmental Bo’ao Forum for Asia aims to promote the important awareness of the community of common destiny among officials and businessmen worldwide. The forum gathers opinion leaders to brainstorm on a number of agendas ranging from economic drivers to regional integration.

With weak recovery in major developed countries except the United States, economic growth is forecast to slow down this year in many Asian countries as exports to the developed world are a key driver of them.

Meanwhile, long-existing thorny disputes between Asian countries remain unsolved, while others continue to be plagued by civil turmoil or spreading terrorism. Economic uncertainty is likely to befall Asia due to the change of monetary policies of major developed countries.

Containing half of the world’s population, Asia creates more than half of global economic growth, and is the most active region. Its economic volume accounts for one third of global economy. The continent is forecast to dominate global economy in 20 to 30 years.

But Asia is at a crossroad. To achieve sustained and efficient growth in the region, reform and cooperation need to be strengthened to upgrade and integrate economies.

To handle challenges in security and other fields, Asian countries should join hands and always keep common interests and responsibilities in mind. The community of common destiny mindset calls for common ground and putting aside differences, sharing weal and woe, opening up and inclusiveness as well as cooperation and common development.

China has been adhering to peaceful development and striving to form a community of common destiny with others for a better future, as reflected in its initiatives to revive the ancient Silk Road and actions to set up a fund and an Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, a multilateral institution.

Most Asian countries are willing to push regional integration, facilitate trade and investment and maintain the region’s peace and stability. This is important to realize what is called the 21st century of Asia.

2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference in Indonesia whose core spirit is solidarity, friendship and cooperation. Many Asian countries, including China, were victims of Japan’s invasion during WWII.

The two anniversaries are a good opportunity for developing Asia to reflect how to avoid the repetition of unforgettable wartime history and strive for common prosperity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-03-26 16:33:39

 

“Belt and Road”

no tools of geopolitics

 

By Wang Xiaopeng

 

 

The “Belt and Road” initiatives, a key topic for the 2015 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) as it opens on Thursday of March 26 in Hainan, are a product of inclusive cooperation, not a tool of geopolitics.

However, there are observers with an outdated Cold War mentality who claim that the Silk Road Economic Belt and The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Asian infrastructure networks are instruments for China to boost its political influence.

These views are either ill-intended or lacking in research in an age of globalization. In essence, the “Belt and Road” are original Chinese concepts aimed at improved cooperation with Asia, Europe and Africa and building a community of common interests.

The ideas were timely when proposed by China in 2013, because attempts to build mutual trust and common prosperity in the region have faced challenges in recent years for complex reasons including differences in political systems and cultural traditions.

A recent BFA report said the effects of the Asia “miracle” of high growth and robust trade are ebbing fast. Economic indicators show an uncertain future for Asia as economic integration dawdles.

Asia’s goods trade grew only at the global average in 2013, while growth of services fell below the world average, the report said.

Given the situation, regional integration must be accelerated and no Asian nation must be left behind. There are strong reasons for an inclusive Asian community where all members seek cooperation, not least because they are geographically close to each other.

That’s why the four-day BFA this year is themed “Asia’s New Future: Toward a Community of Common Destiny”.

Understanding the origin of the initiatives will also help in grasping their nature of creating a win-win situation.

The ideas involve a reinvigoration of the ancient Silk Road trade network, which had a history of more than 2,000 years and was used by people of many countries for friendly exchange and commerce.

Noting there is a huge gap between infrastructure demand and the limited resources available for many Asian nations to pool, China is willing to share its infrastructure expertise and experience accumulated over decades with its neighbors.

Statistics from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) show that between 2010 and 2020, around 8 trillion U.S. dollars of investment will be needed in the Asia-Pacific region to improve its infrastructure. However, the ADB is only able to provide about 10 billion U.S. dollars annually for this cause.

The hunger for funding will be much alleviated after the China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) starts operating before the end of the year as a key pillar to finance the initiatives along with a 40-billion-U.S.-dollar Silk Road Fund.

The inclusiveness of the AIIB, which has received applications from Britain, Germany and France to be founding members, is evidence of China’s sincerity in promoting common development in the region.

Given the attractiveness of the AIIB, nations in Asia should take immediate action to embrace the Belt and Road plan in good faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-03-25 19:32:39

 

Can listing powers

help improve public supervision?

 

By Guo Likun

 

 

“It goes without saying that powers should not be held without good reason,” Premier Li Keqiang said at the annual parliament session in his government work report earlier this month.

In the latest move to check capricious use of power and cut red tape, the central government published a guideline Tuesday ordering local governments to make lists of their powers open to the public.

In essence, the power list aims for an efficient government administrative system featuring clear definitions, rational divisions, and power and responsibility consistent with the law.

Publicizing the list is an important step for building a transparent government and helps the public understand the boundaries of the government’s power, which in turn leads to better public supervision.

However, people cannot help but wonder whether the power list system, which has practically no precedent in the country, can achieve its end.

No doubt it will pose a big challenge for local governments since they are both the promoters and targets of the reform.

The reform will surely move the “cheese” of some agencies, but local governments will have to let go of powers that should be delegated to the market or society and properly exercise review over all items that have been delegated to them by higher-level governments.

Unclear division and overlapping functions among some government agencies or agencies at different levels have long been a headache. The ambiguity either leaves officials with too much discretion or leads to confusion for the public and enterprises.

Procedures and processes must be simplified and timeframes must be clarified for all items requiring administrative review.

Administrative powers that have no legal basis or contradict existing laws should be scrapped and all powers to be retained will be reviewed based on legitimacy, rationality and necessity.

The boundaries of power should be nailed down to make sure that anything the law does not authorize is not done and all duties and functions assigned by law are performed.

Another thing that should be noted is that listing powers should not be used as an excuse by government agencies for administrative inaction.

That is why the government needs not only a power list, but an accountability list to prevent governments from exercising excessive power or shying away from their responsibilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |   2015-03-25 16:23:21

 

China well equipped

to forestall sharp slowdown

 

By Wang Yaguang

 

 

There has never been a shortage of naysayers predicting an impending collapse of the Chinese economy. But not one of the predictions has proven true, and it will be no different this time.

With a host of key growth indicators at their lowest points for a number of years, the release of the HSBC flash manufacturing purchasing managers’ index on Tuesday of March 24, which fell to an 11-month low and came in below even pessimistic forecasts, has spurred a new wave of pessimism.

Such dire predictions, as always, fail to allow for policy makers’ room to maneuver — first in neutralizing the catalysts for a collapse, and then in limiting the damage even if occurs.

Although China’s headline growth slowed to its lowest level in 24 years, the 7.4-percent rise is the envy of most other nations and the economy still enjoys sound fundamentals as job creation and income growth continue apace.

Rather than being the kind of “hard landing” many had forecast, China’s slowdown is unfolding largely in a manageable way. Senior officials are relatively calm and have consistently ignored pressure from the market to launch massive stimulus packages.

A “new normal” of slower growth is a desirable outcome as China seeks to wean the economy off its reliance on exports and state-directed investment and instead encourage private sector growth and consumer spending to ensure sustainable expansion in the long run.

Taking into account the unique features of China’s economy, it is not hard to conclude that it is almost impossible for the economy to nosedive, because the Chinese government won’t let it happen — for reasons as diverse as ensuring social stability, maintaining market confidence and guaranteeing fiscal revenue growth to force through reforms.

Policy makers have the firepower to avert a hard landing and would not hesitate to intervene if the slowdown caused widespread unemployment or a drop in citizens’ incomes.

In the short term, policy makers could employ mini stimulus measures, such as reserve requirement ratio and interest rate cuts and tax reductions, to ensure growth does not slide below the lower limit of a reasonable range.

Plans are also in place to engineer longer-term development. Comprehensive reform and three major strategies — construction of “Belt and Road” Asian trade infrastructure, coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, and development of the Yangtze River economic belt, are designed to unleash potential for future growth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |   2015-03-24 16:46:39

 

Future of China-Japan ties

hinges on attitude toward aggression

 

By Wang Xiaopeng

 

 

A recent statement by Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida may signal the island nation is reconsidering its handling of historical issues under the pressure from neighbors and the international community.

“Japan is willing to strive for the improvement of bilateral ties in the spirit of facing history squarely and advancing toward the future,” Kishida told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at a trilateral meeting to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII and the creation of the United Nations in Seoul.

Saturday’s talks were held three years after the last meeting in April 2012.

In the intervening years, the talks were suspended as Japan’s ties with China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) soured due to rows over historical and territorial issues, including a provocative visit by the Japanese Prime Minister to the Yasukuni Shrine, a spiritual symbol of Japan’s aggression which honors war criminals, in December 2013.

As the three Asian nations vow to improve trilateral cooperation, a thorough reflection of Japan’s aggressive history must be confronted during a year with several anniversaries related to WWII.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama set an example during his speech on the 50th anniversary of the war’s end in 1995, in which he publicly apologized for the atrocities Japanese troops committed during World War II.

The principle of the Murayama statement has been followed by successive prime ministers. However, none have matched the weight of Murayama’s powerful statement and their deeds have not lived up to their words.

In recent years, Asian neighbors have observed the words and deeds by Japan’s leaders to cover up wartime history and openly challenge the international order set after WWII.

Despite iron-clad facts, there have always been voices in Japan seeking to whitewash the country’s wartime atrocities through denial of the Nanjing Massacre and the issue of “comfort women”, in which women were coerced to serve the Japanese Imperial Army during the war.

The Japanese government has spared no efforts in trumpeting the nation’s post-WWII achievements and publicizing so-called “proactive pacifism” while attempting to send its Self-Defense Forces into battles abroad by lifting the ban on the right to collective defense.

Fundamentally, these acts can be understood as excuses to distract people, creating an atmosphere in which Japan does not need to reflect on its aggression any more.

The actions have invoked protests by peace-loving people in Japan and were boycotted by victim nations.

Even Germany, also a fascist power in WWII, has admonished Japan’s behavior. In her recent visit to Japan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “facing history squarely” and “generous gestures” by its neighbors are necessary to mend ties.

Instead of undermining Japan’s international prestige, Murayama’s statement 20 years ago promoted relations between Japan and its neighbors, in particular with China and the ROK, and contributed to stability in East Asia.

In contrast, Japan’s distorted perception on wartime history in recent years has not only strained bilateral relations but also prevented the nation from enjoying the full fruits of cooperation with its neighbors.

Statistics from the Japanese government show bilateral trade between China and Japan contracted in both 2012 and 2013, with Japan’s exports to China shrinking more than 10 percent in both years.

The historical lesson for Japan is clear.

Only by shouldering the responsibility of aggression history and adopting a consistent perception on the issue can Japan embrace a brighter future with China and other Asian neighbors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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