Diplomatic ties with China increasingly attractive

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/22 23:08:40

Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT

Panama recently established formal diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC). A joint communiqué issued by China and Panama recognizes the PRC as the only legitimate government representing China, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. That means the island of Taiwan now has a less "exclusive relationship" with one of its most important "diplomatic allies." Among the other countries that have not yet established formal diplomatic relations with the PRC, many of them have had very close ties with the mainland in tourism and trade for a long time. From the point of view of their own national interests and aspirations, they are likely to want to establish diplomatic ties with the PRC.

First, political intimacy is driven by concrete economic interests. When communicating with most countries, the PRC is inclined to establish a benign interactive model, under which political relations and economic cooperation can realize mutual stimulation. Generally, before the establishment of official diplomatic relations, China and the other countries already have a close economic relationship. Such a solid foundation will encourage both sides to develop relations and build formal diplomatic ties. After that, due to more policy support, economic and trade exchanges between them can become more prosperous.

For instance, China and South Korea established official diplomatic relations in 1992. At that time China had already become one of South Korea's largest trading partners. After the establishment of official diplomatic relations, political mutual trust further promoted economic exchanges, and the free trade agreement between the two countries came into effect in 2015. The same example also occurred in Central America. China was the second-largest trading partner of Costa Rica in 2007, and the local government decided to develop a deeper relationship with China. In the same year, the two countries set up official diplomatic relations, and in the following year they conducted a feasibility study into a bilateral free trade agreement. Eventually, they signed a free trade agreement in 2011, taking bilateral economic cooperation to a new level.

Political intimacy is related to tangible economic interests and is supported by long-term trade cooperation. And it is clear for these other countries that building a relationship with China is in their national interest.

Second, choosing the PRC as a diplomatic partner is coherent for future trends. In today's international arena, the political and economic status of China can by no means be overlooked. In terms of economic and trade contacts, other countries are becoming more dependent on the mainland, and they also gain more from economic ties than the mainland. As it offers such a large and open consumer market, the mainland also boasts unparalleled attractiveness.

The mainland will continue to open up its market and play an increasingly significant role in global economic development. Many countries will benefit from cooperating with the mainland, and no one wants to miss this wonderful opportunity. In the future, there may be more countries hoping to establish diplomatic ties and get closer to the PRC. With the domino effect possibly caused by Panama, Taiwan will find itself holding fewer and fewer cards.

The article was compiled based on an interview with Li Wei, director of the America and Oceania research institute at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: INSIDER'S EYE

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