As far back as January 2012, I pointed out “China’s desire to establish an East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere,” which Japan shed a lot of blood to establish decades ago, but failed. ASEAN plus China, Japan and Korea (APT – ASEAN Plus Three) will be its embryo.
If Australia and New Zealand, who both already have free trade agreements with ASEAN, South Asian countries including India, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation also join the sphere centred on China, there may be an Asian Union greater than the European Union.
China has succeeded in setting up a free-trade zone with ASEAN, while South Korea and Japan are making efforts in doing so.
Such a sphere will bring tremendous benefits to all member countries. Seeing that, the US used its pivot to Asia to contain China, and instigated the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to draw some Asian countries away from the sphere.
True enough, the pivot to Asia has indeed sewn discord between China and its neighbours, although the TPP proves more difficult to implement than the APT.
It has taken more than two years for China to break the US encirclement and resume establishment of the sphere in earnest.
In a recent meeting of Japanese, Chinese and South Korean financial policy makers, the three countries agreed to make efforts to free their countries from geopolitical tensions and resume financial cooperation. It is to be hoped that it is a satisfactory beginning for China and Japan to realise their mistakes and resume their efforts together with ASEAN and South Korea for the APT.
The following is the full text of Reuters report on the resumption of financial cooperation among the three countries:
Japan, China, South Korea agree to ensure geopolitical risks don’t threaten recovery
Financial policy makers of Japan, China and South Korea agreed to work together to ensure that geopolitical tensions will not threaten the region’s economic recovery.
“We recognise that the global recovery continues, while it is uneven and downside risks remain,” the finance ministers and central bank governors said in a statement issued after their first trilateral meeting in more than two years.
“We shared the view that we should strengthen our regional capabilities to manage financial and economic risks and respond to possible crisis” through policy dialogue, they said after the meeting, held on the sidelines of the Group of 20 finance leaders’ gathering in the Australian city of Cairns.
The policy makers agreed to hold the next trilateral meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, in May 2015.
Friday’s trilateral meeting was the first such meeting since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to power in 2012, after ties between Japan and its neighbours soured due to maritime territorial disputes and rows over the legacy of Japan’s wartime aggression in Asia.
The three countries used to hold regular financial meetings, usually on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank’s annual conference.
But in recent years, financial cooperation between Tokyo, Beijing and Seoul has stalled, including over agreements such as one that would enable Japan to buy Chinese government debt.
A December 2013 visit by Abe to Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine, seen by critics as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism, also frayed relations with the two Asian neighbours, where memories of the wartime past run deep.
Abe has been calling for leaders’ summits with both countries to improve relations and has said he would like to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific leaders summit in Beijing on Nov. 10-11.
Since Abe took office for a rare second time in December 2012, he has not been able to hold two-way summits with either Xi or South Korean President Park Geun-hye.Source: Reuters “Japan, China, South Korea agree to ensure geopolitical risks don’t threaten recovery”
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