China spearheads APEC initiatives for regional integration

Source:Xinhua Published: 2014-11-15 15:22:31

China is spearheading initiatives launched at the just-concluded annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting and calling for a more integrated Asia-Pacific region.

Transport authorities in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have signed a contract with Kyrgyzstan, vowing to resume two regular cross-border bus services linking Xinjiang with cities in the neighboring country. One bus will run between Kashgar and Jalal-Abad, and another will run between Artux and Osh. The four cities are important posts in the "Silk Road Economic Belt" that China is actively promoting.

In addition to connecting with Asia-Pacific countries by land and sea, China is also promoting regional cooperation in terms of personnel exchange and logistics.

China's Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that China and the United States will grant each other's citizens business or tourist visas with multiple entries and a maximum validity of ten years.

In the past two days, the two countries issued their first round of ten-year visas to citizens of each other's countries.

In the eastern metropolis of Shanghai, the APEC initiative known as the Asia-Pacific Model E-port Network is being built.

Shen Weihua, vice chairman of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce, said the platform will transcend time differences and digitize the customs clearance process to make foreign trade data accessible online.

Enterprises in Shanghai will be able to directly make customs declarations to Hong Kong and the United States through the Internet, and companies in other APEC economies will also be able to apply for customs clearance to Shanghai Customs via their own e-ports, he said.

In the city of Tianjin, another APEC initiative, the first pilot center for the Cooperation Network on Green Supply Chain of APEC, is under construction.

The network aims to conduct applied research on the green supply chain and establish pilot centers and information-sharing websites, said assistant general manager of Tianjin Innovative Finance Investment Company, Mu Lingling, who is in charge of the preparation work.

APEC consensus

Twenty-five years after the founding of APEC, the 21-member forum now covers a population of 2.8 billion, or 40 percent of the global total. APEC members produce 57 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP) and contribute 48 percent of global trade.

This year's APEC meetings, which concluded in Beijing on Tuesday, adopted two important documents: "The 22nd APEC Economic Leaders' Declaration: Beijing Agenda for an Integrated, Innovative and Interconnected Asia-Pacific," and the "Statement on the 25th Anniversary of APEC: Shaping the Future through Asia-Pacific Partnership."

The APEC members made a blueprint agreeing to enhance physical, institutional and people-to-people connections by 2025. The members also agreed to start a joint strategic study on the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), marking the official launch of the FTAAP process.

The Chinese government has also announced a set of measures to step up cooperation with its APEC partners.

During the meetings, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China will contribute 40 billion US dollars to set up a Silk Road Fund, providing investment and financing support to carry out infrastructure, resource, industrial, and financial cooperation with neighboring countries.

Xi also announced that China will donate 10 million US dollars for institutional development and capacity building for APEC and provide 1,500 training places to help developing APEC members improve their ability in the fields of trade and investment in the next three years.

On Wednesday, China and the United States issued a joint statement on climate change to limit greenhouse gas emissions. According to the statement, China pledged that its carbon dioxide emissions will peak around 2030 and the country will increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its primary energy consumption to around 20 percent by 2030.

China's obligation

Why should China attach so much importance to building a more integrated Asia-Pacific?

Liu Chenyang, director of the APEC research center of Nankai University in Tianjin City, said that during the past three decades more of reform and opening up, China has established close connections with the rest of the world, especially the Asia-Pacific region.

"Currently, eight out of the ten most important trade partners for China are APEC members," he said. "China has been moving up the global value chain and will be acting as a connecting link between countries at both the lower and higher ends of the value chain for a certain period of time in the near future."

Liu added that a more integrated Asia-Pacific will also contribute to the global economy as a whole.

"China has a big role to play in forming the 'big family' of Asia-Pacific region. The Asia-Pacific region is vast in territory, and there are development gaps between different economies. The socialist path with Chinese characteristics has set up a new example for development," said Yu Pei, an expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"China will continue carrying out its obligation to guard the prosperity and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, which is also determined by the traditional Chinese culture of pursuing harmony in diversity and a win-win situation," he said.

President Xi Jinping left Beijing on Friday for the G20 Summit in Brisbane and state visits to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. The Summit is slated for Nov. 15 and 16, while the state visits will take place from Nov. 16 to 23.

Yu said this is another trip that is expected to enhance cooperation between China and Asia-Pacific countries.

Posted in: Politics, Diplomacy

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