Xi calls for bigger APEC role

By Zhuang Xueya in Bali and Liu Yunlong in Beijing Source:Global Times Published: 2013-10-8 1:03:01

Leaders of the Asia-Pacific region and their respective spouses, wearing traditional Balinese "endek" costumes, pose for a group photo before a dinner hosted for the leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on Monday. Photo: AFP

Chinese President Xi Jinping Monday called on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies to play a leading role in maintaining and advancing an open world economy.

Xi made the remarks during a keynote speech to an informal meeting of economic leaders at an APEC meeting on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, which had sustainable growth and regional cooperation high on the agenda.

Noting that the world economy is still confronted with daunting challenges before achieving a full recovery and sound growth, Xi said APEC must face them head-on with courage and resolve.

The president said APEC member economies should work together for the common development of the Asia-Pacific through increased macro-economic policy coordination.

With the economies of APEC members closely intertwined with economic globalization, they must amplify the positive effects of macro-economic policy coordination while preventing or reducing the negative spillover, and pursue win-win cooperation in an open and inclusive spirit, he said.

Su Hao, director of the Asia-Pacific Research Center at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that Xi's speech stressed that economic development is the priority for members of APEC, as other players try to provoke other problems in the region which might make some ignore the importance of economic development.

Meanwhile, Xi also noted that while the international community is working to push forward the Doha Round, various free trade arrangements in the Asia-Pacific are advancing in parallel, each with different rules, standards and preferred pathways.

Xi said that China believes that "any arrangement should lead to a cooperative relationship, not a confrontational one; an open mindset, not an exclusive one; win-win results, not a zero-sum outcome; and integration, not fragmentation," without naming a particular arrangement.

Analysts believe it refers to the US-advocated Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which excludes China.

"TPP is like a small circle which might be against APEC's aim to achieve wide economic integration in the region," said Su.

Xi also called on APEC members to stay committed to open development and resolutely oppose protectionism.

Ei Sun Oh, a senior fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University, told the Global Times that Xi's call for more open access is "both timely and crucial," and Southeast Asian countries understand collective lowering of these barriers will ultimately bring forth more common interests for all.

He noted that China could take the lead, for example in lowering or canceling several tariffs in the new China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone.

Earlier on Monday, Xi elaborated his views on the Chinese economy and the country's reform at a business forum on the sidelines of the APEC meeting, assuring business leaders that there is no reason to fear a hard landing.

China's GDP growth slowed to 7.6 percent in the first half of this year.

"I'm fully confident in the future of China's economy," Xi said, noting the slowdown is "an intended result of our own regulatory initiatives" and a "seven percent annual growth rate will suffice" to meet China's medium-term goal of doubling per capita income by 2020.

Xi highlighted the importance of reform, which he said is facing an uphill battle and in the deep-water zone.

"China is a big country. It shouldn't make subversive errors on fundamental issues, or it would be irredeemable. We not only need to be bold in exploring [reform], but also need to be cautious and think it over twice," Xi said.

The APEC group has 21 members, which account for about 55 percent of world GDP and some 40 percent of the world's population.

Agencies contributed to this story

Posted in: Diplomacy, Asia-Pacific

blog comments powered by Disqus