13 November 2014
A hectic week of high-level diplomacy in Beijing has seen China asserting its weight and snatching the region’s economic leadership from traditional leader, the United States. The implications will not be missed as ASEAN leaders meet in summit in Myanmar this week.
The APEC Summit that just concluded in Beijing was no doubt China’s show. Beijing came out looking very much what it is touted to be – the world’s second largest economy – now leading the charge towards a freely-trading region known as the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP). For a once-closed economy that was not even part of the global trading system, this is one giant leap. In so doing, China overshadowed and reduced a rival initiative from the United States – the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) which excludes Beijing – to what is a subsidiary platform.
President Xi Jinping has just shown that the agenda of liberalising trade in the Asia-Pacific cannot but take China into account; indeed, this agenda will henceforth be dictated by China. To show how serious it is, the Beijing APEC Declaration came complete with a roadmap towards the realisation of the FTAAP, though a clear deadline was shelved for now. With the US outmanoeuvered, the economic power game entered a second stage in Myanmar this week where ASEAN hosted the East Asia Summit in which both China and the US are members (with Beijing represented by Prime Minister Li Keqiang).
…Yang Razali Kassim is Senior Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 14/11/2014