Note: The analysis presented below is based on the speeches delivered by experts during the forum on cooperation among China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea in the Asia-Pacific region, organized by the Beijing Foreign Studies University.
Nelson Wong: Appreciating similarities can help us grow together
Nelson Wong’s speech emphasizes the importance of appreciating similarities among the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean communities in order to foster unity and growth. He highlights the shared values and traditions, such as celebrating restraint, unity, and respect for others, that exist within these cultures. Wong argues that by recognizing these commonalities, the three nations can overcome differences, work together, and achieve economic and cultural progress.
One of the key points raised in the speech is the need to resist external attempts to divide and manipulate the region. Wong asserts that the notion of a “China threat” and tensions across the Taiwan Strait are fabricated by a certain external power seeking to maintain its global hegemony. By exposing this agenda, Wong aims to unite the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean neighbors against external interference and promote regional security.
Wong also questions the influence of a particular country that has significant military presence in Japan and South Korea. He raises concerns about the economic practices of this country, such as printing currency notes and living on debt, and questions its right to interfere in internal and regional affairs. Wong asserts that maintaining strong autonomy is essential for the region’s prosperity and the formation of a multi-polar international system.
Furthermore, the speech highlights historical examples to support the argument that external powers have previously attempted to contain and control the development of Asian nations. Wong refers to Japan’s economic containment in the 1980s and recent disruptions in the semiconductor industry, which impacted chip exports to China from countries like South Korea. These examples serve to reinforce the need for unity among the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean communities in order to counteract external pressures and ensure their collective progress.
The speech concludes with a call for dialogue, the setting aside of prejudices, and a joint effort to shape the future. Wong believes that by leveraging shared culture, talent, hard work, and an entrepreneurial spirit, the three nations can create economic miracles and contribute to the advancement of human civilization. The emphasis is on a shared destiny, where unity and cooperation lead to mutual benefits and global recognition.
Overall, Nelson Wong’s speech highlights the importance of appreciating similarities, resisting external interference, and fostering unity among the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean communities. By recognizing their common values and cultural heritage, these nations can overcome differences, work together, and achieve prosperity in a changing global landscape.
💡 Nelson Wong is the vice-chairman and president of Shanghai Centre for RimPac Strategic and International Studies.
Jin Xu: Low-carbon cooperation between China and ROK
Jin Xu’s speech highlights the potential for low-carbon cooperation between China and the Republic of Korea. The speech acknowledges the ROK’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and emphasizes the need for both governments to support ROK enterprises investing in China to develop low-carbon industries, particularly in sectors like semiconductors and electronics. Additionally, the speech suggests that Chinese enterprises should explore opportunities to collaborate with ROK counterparts in third-party markets and leverage the ROK’s free economic zones to strengthen bilateral cooperation.
The speech recognizes that the ROK’s current government has generally embraced new-energy policies, except for nuclear power. It emphasizes the importance of China studying the ROK’s development model and changes in its energy policy. This indicates an openness to learning from the ROK’s experiences and potentially implementing similar strategies in China. The speech further suggests the establishment of cooperation zones to encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in the ROK, with a focus on expanding cooperation in new energy, new materials, electric vehicles, tourism, and cultural sectors.
One significant point made in the speech is the importance of Chinese battery-making enterprises considering investment in the ROK. This proposal is likely aimed at mitigating the potential impact of the US’ Inflation Reduction Act on the battery industry. By strengthening bilateral economic relations in the battery and battery materials sectors, the two countries can enhance their cooperation and resilience in the face of external challenges.
Overall, Jin Xu’s speech emphasizes the potential for cooperation between China and the ROK in the realm of low-carbon industries. It highlights the need for support from both governments, encourages mutual learning and exploration of investment opportunities, and suggests specific areas of collaboration. The speech reflects a forward-looking approach that seeks to leverage shared goals and interests to foster sustainable economic development and strengthen the bilateral relationship between China and the ROK.
💡 Jin Xu is a professor at Konkuk University in Seoul.
Ni Yueju: RCEP to boost regional trade and investment
Ni Yueju’s speech focuses on the potential benefits and challenges associated with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) for China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. The speech highlights that the RCEP, as the first free trade agreement to include these three nations, holds significant economic weight, accounting for over 80 percent of the total GDP of the RCEP region.
The speaker asserts that the RCEP has the potential to promote trade and investment, strengthen industrial supply chains, and stimulate growth and stability in the region. Additionally, it is suggested that the agreement could facilitate the transformation of production patterns from the traditional “flying-geese” development model, followed by Japan after World War II, to a “two-headed goose model” practiced by both China and Japan today. The RCEP is also expected to contribute to the establishment of a trilateral free trade zone and an expanded world factory.
However, the speech raises concerns about the limitations imposed by the US-led “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity,” which excludes China. It is argued that this framework may restrict opportunities for China, Japan, and the ROK to build a complementary industrial chain for cutting-edge technology. Consequently, the speaker suggests that two parallel industrial chains may emerge, one involving the US, Japan, and the ROK, and another led by China and involving other developing countries.
The speech acknowledges that, to some extent, China, Japan, and the ROK may still cooperate in certain cutting-edge technology sectors. However, it also raises the possibility that foreign investment in the research and development sector may decline due to rising geopolitical risks in the region, potentially affecting investor confidence.
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Overall, Ni Yueju’s speech highlights the potential benefits of the RCEP for regional trade and investment, as well as the challenges posed by exclusionary economic frameworks. It suggests that while the RCEP presents opportunities for China, Japan, and the ROK to strengthen economic cooperation, the exclusionary nature of other initiatives may influence the development of parallel industrial chains and impact foreign investment in cutting-edge technologies. The speech underscores the importance of considering geopolitical dynamics and their potential implications for the region’s economic integration.
💡 Ni Yueju is a researcher at the Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Ding Ke: Enterprises can hardly decouple
Ding Ke’s speech focuses on the complex dynamics of the supply chains and economic relationships between Japan and China. The speech highlights the concept of the “In China, For China” supply chain, which involves Japanese companies producing and selling products in China. It acknowledges that this strategy has been beneficial for Japanese companies operating in China, as they have reaped high returns on their investments by leveraging the complementary advantages of the two countries’ innovative development models.
The speech also mentions Japan’s “China Plus One” strategy, which aims to relocate sunset industries from China to other countries in order to reduce Japan’s dependence on China. This strategy is driven by factors such as the rising costs of production in China, particularly due to a shortage of skilled workers. It suggests that some Japanese companies are seeking to diversify their manufacturing bases to mitigate risks associated with over-reliance on China.
The speech highlights the different strengths of Chinese and Japanese enterprises. Chinese enterprises are characterized as being good at breakthrough innovation, which is often revolutionary but short-term in nature. On the other hand, Japanese enterprises excel in cumulative innovation. Despite these differences, the speech argues that win-win cooperation is still possible by leveraging the international division of labor in high-end industries.
The intensification of the rivalry between the United States and China is also mentioned, with the speech noting that some cutting-edge technology sectors in both China and Japan may experience decoupling. However, the speaker suggests that multinational companies are unlikely to take sides in this rivalry, given China’s advantages in manufacturing intermediate products. This indicates that there may still be opportunities for collaboration and cooperation between Chinese and Japanese enterprises in certain areas.
Additionally, the speech highlights the potential positive impact of high-level trade agreements, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), in removing trade barriers, optimizing the institutional environment, reducing geopolitical risks, and fostering China-Japan cooperation.
Overall, Ding Ke’s speech provides insights into the complexities of the economic relationship between Japan and China, considering factors such as supply chain strategies, innovation strengths, decoupling in certain sectors, and the potential benefits of trade agreements. It suggests that while challenges exist, there are opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefits between the two countries, particularly in high-end industries and through regional trade agreements.
💡 Ding Ke is a senior researcher at the Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization.
Li Chengri: Northeast Asia needs new coordination model
Li Chengri’s speech highlights the need for a new coordination model in Northeast Asia, focusing on the regional cooperation among China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. The speech acknowledges the progress made in institutional cooperation and rapid economic and trade cooperation among the three countries. However, it also identifies several challenges that need to be addressed.
The first challenge mentioned is the lack of political trust, stemming from both external and internal factors. The pressure exerted by the United States on China, as well as its allies like Japan and the ROK, to contain China’s rise has strained political trust in the region. The speaker suggests that Japan and the ROK face a dilemma of taking sides against China, creating obstacles to cooperation.
The second challenge highlighted is regional uncertainties affecting security cooperation. The Korean Peninsula’s high security risk is emphasized as a significant factor influencing cooperation among the three countries.
The third challenge pertains to regional political problems hindering the development of a trilateral cooperative mechanism. The refusal of Tokyo to reflect on its militarist past and other historical issues is cited as a factor negatively affecting China-Japan and ROK-Japan relations. Territorial and fishing disputes are also mentioned as issues impacting cooperation.
Despite these challenges, the speech asserts that there are still reasons for the three countries to work together and boost regional cooperation. Economic and trade cooperation, particularly through initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, are seen as avenues for deepening cooperation and establishing a trilateral free trade zone. Economic recovery post-pandemic, regular three-way talks, people-to-people exchanges, and cooperation in non-traditional security fields are emphasized as areas for focus.
The speech concludes by stating that cooperation among China, Japan, and the ROK is crucial for overall regional economic cooperation and maintaining peace and stability in Northeast Asia. It suggests that in the future, the three countries should deepen cooperation, promote exchanges among local governments and enterprises, explore new models of coordinated development in the region, and work towards building a community with a shared future in Northeast Asia.
Overall, Li Chengri’s speech underscores the need for enhanced regional cooperation and addresses the challenges faced by China, Japan, and the ROK. It highlights economic cooperation as a key pillar and emphasizes the importance of addressing political issues, regional uncertainties, and historical disputes in order to strengthen cooperation and achieve a shared future in Northeast Asia.
💡 Li Chengri is a researcher at the National Institute of International Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Phou Sambath: Better ASEAN integration to promote development
Phou Sambath’s speech focuses on the need for better integration and development within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), particularly among its newer members – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. The speech emphasizes the importance of equitable economic development, the challenges of integration, and the potential strategies for addressing them.
The speech highlights that while ASEAN integration is aimed at promoting economic development, there will be winners and losers in the process. Cheaper imports may negatively impact certain sectors in the short term, necessitating resource reallocation and compensation for those affected. This reflects the need for careful planning and policy measures to mitigate the negative consequences of integration and ensure a fair distribution of benefits.
To avoid or overcome the middle-income trap, where growth slows due to rising labor costs and shifting comparative advantages, the speech suggests that ASEAN members need to adapt to evolving value chains and enhance their competitiveness. This requires adopting better competition policies, fostering an innovation-friendly investment environment, and investing in critical infrastructure facilities such as transportation networks and power grids.
The speech highlights the importance of long-term initiatives like ASEAN’s Master Plan on Connectivity and the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund, which can provide financing for infrastructure development beyond 2015. The ASEAN Power Grid and the planned Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline are identified as crucial networks that can enhance regional connectivity and offer opportunities for investment, financing, and technology transfer.
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Phou Sambath’s speech emphasizes the importance of addressing the challenges of integration, promoting equitable economic development, and investing in critical infrastructure within ASEAN. It underscores the need for proactive policies and strategic planning to ensure that all member states benefit from integration, and to sustain long-term growth and competitiveness in the region.
💡 Phou Sambath is the head of the International Business Management Department at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.