China’s “more cooperative” stance on Biden’s “economic NATO” bloc

China's position is more

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the Asia-Pacific region is where China lives and thrives. (File)


With US President Joe Biden launching a new trade agreement with 12 Indo-Pacific countries, including India, to boost trade, economic and investment opportunities, China has taken aggressive action against what it sees as a threat to its dominance in the region. It promised more openness, while Beijing’s state media called it “economic NATO.”

On the eve of the Quad Summit in Tokyo, Joe Biden on Monday launched the ambitious Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), an initiative aimed at deepening cooperation between like-minded countries in areas such as clean energy and supply. Chain resilience and digital commerce.

The IPEF is expected to send a signal that the United States is focusing on pursuing a strong economic policy for the region in response to China’s aggressive trade strategy in the region. Countries participating in the US-led initiative are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The U.S.-led trade deal has already caused panic in Beijing, as its foreign minister, Wang Yi, on the same day proposed better cooperation with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project and investment in the Indo-Pacific region.

Addressing the Asia-Pacific Economic and Social Commission (ESCAP) via a video link at the same time as the IPEF was launched on Monday, Mr Wang said, “The Asia-Pacific region is where China lives and thrives.”

“China will continue to focus on the Asia-Pacific for its own benefit and contribute more to lasting peace and sustainable development through strong action,” he said.

Without naming the IPEF, Mr Wang said Beijing would push ahead with China’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement to address the Quad Alliance’s new trade and economic initiatives.

He said Beijing would strengthen “dialogue and cooperation” with other Asia-Pacific countries to implement the Global Security Initiative (GSI), which is widely seen as Beijing’s initiative to address the quad alliance comprising India, the United States, Japan and Australia.

He reiterated his criticism of the quad, saying the region should resolutely maintain peace and stability and unequivocally reject any attempt to impose military blocs and bloc conflicts in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We must be committed to the peaceful settlement of disputes through dialogue and consultation, and we must oppose all talk and actions that raise tensions and provoke conflict in the region,” he said. Shouldn’t.

The state-run Global Times quoted Chinese strategic experts who called the IPEF an “economic NATO” and acknowledged that it would provide some opportunities for countries in the region.

The Beijing Quad criticizes the alliance as “Asian NATO” aimed at preventing its rise.

The preliminary list of IPEF member countries, released on Monday, corresponds to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), with the absence of China, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, and the United States and India. The daily’s report said.

It quoted experts as saying that compared to the RCEP, the IPEF could be something like an “economic NATO” where the United States would add concrete rules to its structure in the coming years to meet its interests.

Guo Jiaosong, dean of the ASEAN Research Institute at Hainan Tropical Ocean University, told the Daily that the inclusion in the IPEF framework would bring some economic benefits for ASEAN members in terms of investment and trade.

Vietnam, for example, could enjoy some “policy bonuses” under the framework to further strengthen its textile and digital exports to the United States.

Gu Xiaosong speculated that the United States should have chosen its IPEF partners based on both political and economic criteria, as countries that could help weaken China’s competitiveness in the industry were selected.

“Vietnam, as a large market country and Malaysia, a good country for chip production, could be used by the United States to create relevant supply chains to offset China’s supply chains,” he said.

Chinese experts say that in the next step, the United States may choose to distribute and collaborate its industrial chains with various members under the IPEF framework.

The United States will not consider countries that are too small in economic terms and considered to have close ties with China, they said.

Since the United States still has considerable influence in many countries in the region, the IPEF may have different levels of appeal to different members.

Wang Yuewei, director of the Institute for International Affairs at Renmin University in China, said some ASEAN members joined the IPEF because the United States has access to many key high-tech technologies, such as chips and software, and ASEAN members are concerned about a possible U.S. boycott. .

Nevertheless, the United States may be willing to sacrifice some of its economic interests in its conceptual propaganda to test China’s growth, experts warn.

To address the situation, China should upgrade its RCEP cooperation, such as expediting digital partnership talks with ASEAN members, Wang Yiwei said.

Relations between China and the quad member states have become strained, with Beijing challenging growing democratic values ​​and resorting to forced trade practices.

India, the United States and several other world powers are talking about the need to ensure a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific against the backdrop of China’s growing military presence in the region.

China claims almost all of the disputed South China Sea, although Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim part of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)

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