Sep 29

Xinhua: “China, Japan, ROK pledge to advance all-round partnership”

Written by dewang on Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 at 4:27 am
Filed under:-mini-posts, Asian Union, economy, General, politics | Tags:, ,
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In my prior post about Japan’s new Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama’s opinion piece on the NYT, I was encouraged by Hatoyama’s view of an Asian Union. This is an interesting trend I encourage our readers to follow. Xinhua reported Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and ROK Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Yu Myung Hwan has met in Shanghai on September 28, 2009 to “deepen their all-round cooperative partnership.” This is in preparation for the three countries top leaders to meet in October in Beijing. It will be interesting to see what new trilateral agreements they reach by then, at which time the top leaders will endorse and announce.

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12 Responses to “Xinhua: “China, Japan, ROK pledge to advance all-round partnership””

  1. Raj Says:

    dewang, how do you think an Asian Union would treat Taiwan – would it be given permanent membership much like it is a part of APEC, regardless of whether its political relationship with China?

  2. dewang Says:

    Hi Raj, #1,

    That’s a fair question. If Taiwan and Mainland unifies by the time this Asian Union happens, obviously this question is moot. If the present day status quo is maintained by the time the union is created, my view is Taiwan, Mainland, and the Asian Union would come to some arrangement then.

    Some might say the disputes between Korea and Japan, or China and Japan, or between any two parties in Asia will need to be resolved first for this Asian Union to happen. In my view, it is the formation of this Asian Union that will permit all these outstanding thorny issues to be more easily solved.

  3. Steve Says:

    This type of announcement kind of reminds me of global warming conferences. All sorts of hands are shaken, pronouncements made, photo ops taken, and then the grunts get sent in to negotiate. That’s where everything gets bogged down… in the details.

    I’d guess we’re talking a few years of negotiations with a limited scope for the Union itself, which is still a good thing. Once a body like this is established, gradually more and more gets done and people become used to dealing with issues as a body and not as individuals.

  4. dewang Says:

    Hi Steve, #3,
    It’ll be neat to see this happening within our life times, but we may not.

    The E.U. is still a work in progress, and it took close to 60 years with many treaties between individual states to get to where it is today.


    To me, the first big step is Asia becoming a complete free trade zone. That is already under way. But, Asia has the experiences of E.U. to draw from.

  5. Steve Says:

    @ DeWang #4: I agree with you but wonder if countries are willing to open up their trade to that extent. Currently, there is a lot of protectionism within the East Asian zone. Will countries be willing to open up trade faced with the possibility of losing out on economic opportunities if they do not join? That seems to be what drove other countries to join the EU once it had been established. They couldn’t afford NOT to join.

    So it might be best if only a few countries started the zone, then as in the EU, allowed others to join if they put their economic house in order.

  6. justkeeper Says:

    Better fixing the North Korea issue first before you draw blueprints for the Asia’s rosy future.

  7. Raj Says:

    justkeeper has a good point. North Korea would probably be the biggest sticking point to an organisation like this – or would have to be excluded.

    I’m not sure whether Asian economies are similar enough that they could be bound by the same rules/their governments would accept such restrictions. Also I wonder how democratic and autocratic member states would get along. The EU requires its members to be democracies or really be on the path to becoming one.

  8. dewang Says:

    Hi justkeeper #6, Raj, #7,

    Guys, remember at the end of WW2, it was basically hell on earth in Europe. So the condition in Asia is not any worse. PLUS, E.U. has shown a way forward. I’d say lots more are stacked in favor of issues been overcome in Asia.

    Is North Korea’s relative gravity stronger in Asia than U.K.’s in Europe? Also, E.U. did not start out with all states part of it, so I don’t accept this notion that North Korea has to be “overcome” first. The truth is China + ASEAN free trade time-table has been set and are in fact ahead of schedule. Korea and Japan are next.

    Raj – your concern about similarities – I can almost guarantee you that was raised too when the Europeans marched towards E.U..

  9. Steve Says:

    @ DeWang #8: I agree with you that North Korea would not be an initial member of any free trade agreement. They would not be able to meet any minimum standard set by the organization and my guess is that if they were allowed in, they’d be obstructionist.

    The only difficulty I can see with a China/ASEAN free trade agreement is that you’d have one 800 lb. gorilla (China) with a bunch of smaller economies that don’t have the same efficiencies of scale so the sticking point would be how much China was willing to give up to allay their fears of being overwhelmed. So I’d expect negotiations to last for a few years before everything gets ironed out. Asian negotiators can be very, very patient. In fact, I learned how to negotiate when I lived in Asia by just shutting up, watching and listening to the masters. In my opinion, Asians are far better (I should say “far, far better”) negotiators than Americans.

  10. dewang Says:

    Hi Steve, #9,

    In 2002, ASEAN-CHINA Trade Agreement established:

    I think the timetable was to reach goal of zero tariff on goods traded between ASEAN and China by 2012, but I read somewhere by 2010 that will largely be achieved.

    A lot of China’s trade surplus has been funneled into other ASEAN countries. China maintains trade deficit to pull other ASEAN countries along in the last decade.

    Interesting bit on negotiation. My thinking is because they have less money relatively, they are negotiating from a much tougher position to begin with.

  11. Steve Says:

    Hi DeWang: I agree with you, China was bargaining from a position of strength and the other countries didn’t want to get left behind by being left out of an agreement. A 1.3 billion person market is hard to resist.

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