Sunday, October 11, 2009

CHINA, ROK and JAPAN plant the seeds of the East Asia Community!

Picture: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (standing) speaks during
the business summit of China, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and
Japan, in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 10, 2009. On the
picture, Premier WEN (M), ROK President LEE Myung-bak (L)
Japanese Prime Minister Yukio HATOYAMA (R)

How the East Asia Community will start and why
this is epoch making

Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, and his Japanese and
South Korean counterparts, Yukio Hatoyama and Lee Myung-bak,
said the three countries were "committed to the development
of an East Asia community", similar to the European Union.

The idea, which is being strongly pushed by Japan, will y
lead to a free trade block and cooperation on economy,
trade, public health, sciences, energy and the environment.

"With the rapid increase in trilateral economic cooperation
as well as trade and investment, the three countries have
emerged as important trading partners to one another," said a
communiqué from the conference. "We will make full use of
the great potential of the three economies and bring to
higher levels our cooperation in key areas such as business,
trade, finance, investment, logistics, intellectual property,
customs, information, science and technology, energy
conservation, environmental protection and the circular

Between 1985 and 2004, trade within East Asia grew twice as
fast as overall global trade. Around 53% of East Asia's
trade is regional, slightly less than the 67% figure for the
enlarged European Union, but more than NAFTA's 46%.

The three countries leaders met in Beijing to plan for more
structured levels of cooperation.

A banker comment from HSBC : "a shift in the world's centre
of economic gravity from West to East". The bank has already
decided to move its chief executive, Michael Geoghegan, from
London to Hong Kong next February to prepare for Asia's
ascendancy. (Telegraph Malcolm Moore wrote Oct 10th)

Focus on ASIA

Japanese prime minister Hatoyama : "Japan will seek a more
pro-Asian path by reducing its dependence on the United
States. It could be said that we have so far depended on the
United States too much. While the Japanese-U.S. alliance is
important, I want to devise policies that focus more on Asia,
as a member of Asia."

Noting that Japan, China and South Korea form the core of his
concept of an East Asian community, Hatoyama stated : "I want
to start by strengthening economic cooperation and then work
to strengthen exchanges at the cultural and social levels."

Wen told the news conference that he supports the enhancement
of cooperation among Japan, China and South Korea, and their
integration with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
"Only through deepening overall cooperation among the three
countries can the integration of East Asia be advanced," he

Japan, China and South Korea agreed at a trilateral meeting
Saturday to work with other participants in the six-party
talks to resume soon the stalled process aimed at ending
North Korea's nuclear programs. "We will make joint efforts
with other parties for an early resumption of the six-party
talks, so as to safeguard peace and stability in Northeast
Asia," pledging to work to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula
through peaceful means.

In the same statement, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio
Hatoyama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and South Korean
President Lee Myung Bak said their countries remained
committed to developing an East Asian community, a concept
being spearheaded by Hatoyama, as a long-term goal. The
trilateral meeting, held in the Great Hall of the People in
Beijing, commanded attention as it followed Wen's
high-profile visit to North Korea earlier this week, where he
met with the country's leader Kim Jong Il.

North Korea

The denuclearization talks have been stalled since late last
year and the North declared its withdrawal from the process
in April, driving the other members, South Korea, China,
Japan, Russia and the United States, to urge Pyongyang to
return to the talks.

Wen told his Japanese and South Korean counterparts that
during their meeting in Pyongyang on Monday, Kim said he
hoped to hold multilateral talks, including the six-party
talks, while watching developments related to a proposed
direct dialogue between the United States and North Korea.
Kim also said he intends to improve his country's relations
not just with the United States but also with Japan and South

Sustainable development and defense cooperation

After the meeting, the leaders issued a joint statement on
sustainable development and another commemorating the 10th
anniversary of the trilateral process that addresses boosting
a wide range of cooperation among the three countries,
including greater exchanges among defense and military

On the economic front, the three leaders confirmed the need
to forge a tripartite investment accord early next year to
move forward negotiations on an economic partnership
agreement between the three countries.

On climate change, the three leaders agreed to work toward a
key climate change conference to be held in Copenhagen in
December at which countries are expected to try to clinch a
deal on a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, which
expires in 2012. Hatoyama came to the meeting with his
pledge that Japan will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25
percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

[Hatoyama and Wen met separately in the afternoon, and
Hatoyama held talks over dinner with Chinese President Hu
Jintao and Lee later in the day. Hatoyama and Lee met in
Seoul on Friday, agreeing that a comprehensive solution to
the North Korean nuclear, ballistic missile and abduction
issues is a necessary precondition for aid and concessions to
the North. The trilateral meeting was last held in Japan in
December as the first stand-alone meeting held independently
of an international conference. Although the second
stand-alone meeting was scheduled to be held in China in
August, the Japanese side asked for it to be postponed due
partly to the general election later that month.]

I foresaw this development 20 years ago when I viewed the
extraordinary dynamism, history and cultural richness of Asia
as a young journalist and foreign correspondent and decided
to journey and observe this Asia evolution. I am not sure the
same democratic development nor integration of legal systems
as in the EU will be possible nor advisable but certain is
the fact that the economy, the trade and the technologies
will flow as it never did in the history, boosting the inter
cultural cooperation of billions of people. At this juncture,
there is a hope still of a new approach towards individual

But as stated here by a scholar : "Given growing economic
ties, there is no worry about a drastic worsening of the
Japan-China relationship," Hu Wei, professor and dean of
School of International and Public Affairs at Shanghai Jiao
Tong University, told reporters in Tokyo. "But there is
still a gap between their values and public sentiment, so you
cannot be fully optimistic."

"No" the the Nuke umbrella, DPJ!

In other related development, a Kyodo poll shows that 60% of
DPJ lower house members want Japan out of U.S. nuclear

About 60% of the House of Representatives members from the
Democratic Party of Japan want Japan to pull out of the U.S.
nuclear umbrella in the future, a Kyodo News survey showed
Saturday. While 58.3% of the respondents in the survey said
Japan should try to leave the U.S. nuclear umbrella in the
future, 2.8% said Tokyo should do so immediately. While the
latest survey indicates a possible change in Japan’s defense
policy following the launch of the DPJ-led government, it
remains unclear whether the government can depart from the
previous defense policy. The Liberal Democratic Party, which
reigned over Japan for nearly a half century with the
exception of a brief withdrawal, had always put the U.S.
nuclear umbrella as the cornerstone of the nation’s defense
policy. (A survey of Kyodo News published October 11 2009)

"Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Republic of Korea's President
Lee Myung-bak and Japanese new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama
erected not only a milestone but a new starting point for the
tripartite cooperation," Xinhua.

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