Sunday, June 6, 2010

China-Japan-South Korea Leadership Summit

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak held a leadership summit at the international convention center at Jeju Island in South Korea recently. It was the third round of two-day China-Japan-South Korea leadership summit. At this summit the three countries passed the '2020 China-Japan-South Korea Cooperation Outlook.' The leaders said they would uphold history, face up to the future and persevere to promote good-neighborly trilateral relationship toward mutual trust, full cooperation among one another and to strive toward common development direction.

Crisis in Korean Peninsula
While the time, place and agenda of the third China-Japan-South Korea leader meeting have already been finalized, but because of the recent Cheonan fleet dispute in the Korean Peninsula, no one could expect in advance whether the meeting would come out with the expected results because the international community and media were watching and showing concern of the eminent crisis in the Korean Peninsula then.

Nevertheless, after the end of the meeting the gestures of cooperation as reflected by the three leaders and the concrete results obtained at the meeting have reflected the fact that the three countries would not let the Koran Peninsula issue to become a stumbling block for their further development and advancement in the triangular relationship.

Objective and Impartial Judgment
In recent years, it is a fact that China and South Korea have developed increasingly closer contact. However, the relationship between China and South Korea can never be compared with the 'clan' type of close relationship between China and North Korea. As such whether China would side North Korea over the Cheonan Incident has become the focus point of the three-leader summit. At the pre leadership summit, Wen Jiabao has already made clear to Lee Myung-bak that China would deal with the Cheonan Incident based on objective and impartial judgment. According to Chinese official news, China would not shelter any guilty party. The pragmatic and rationale attitude expressed by China over the Cheonan Incident was one of the reasons contributed to the successful holding of the meeting, and resulted in fruitful discussion.

The three leaders did not openly condemn North Korea, but agreed that the attacks on Cheonan fleet incident had caused casualties and was a serious incident that could affect Asian peace and stability. They sent their condolences to the victim families. Both the Chinese and Japanese leaders attached importance to joint investigation on the Cheonan Incident conducted by South Korea and other countries and noted the various responses. The leaders said the three countries would maintain communication, to properly deal with this incident, so that regional peace and stability could be maintained.

Free Trade Agreement
On economic cooperation, the three countries also agreed to strive forth that before the end of this year, to come out with the 'China-Japan -South Korea Investment Agreement' and that by 2012 the China-Japan-South Korea Free Trade Agreement can be materialized. In addition, the three countries will also expand and simplify the business environment in their respective countries at the same time establishing a mechanism to facilitate efficient transportation and logistic management. The three countries will also strengthen financial cooperation of financial institutions in one other's financial market.

It is understood that the total gross economic output of China, Japan and South Korea accounted for 70 percent of the total Asian economies. As of 2008, the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the three countries accounted for about 17 percent of the world economy; and the total value was $4.5 trillion. This accounted for 14 percent of total world trade. The data show that when the three countries further strengthen their economic and trade cooperation, it is not only conducive to economic development in Asia; it will also contribute to world economic recovery and prosperity.

The conclusion of the China-Japan-South Korean leader summit also resulted in the leaders' making a decision to set up the 'China-Japan-South Korea Coordination Secretariat' in South Korea in 2011. With such a permanent Secretariat mechanism in place, the three countries should be able to push their trilateral cooperation to a higher level. When the Secretariat is in place, it will also allow the cooperation among the three countries to become more solid than the current stage. This, in turn, will allow the three countries to face a more future-oriented and all-round cooperative partnership in various fields. Such development will also allow the mutually beneficial cooperation in different fields to become more fruitful. In the process the friendly feelings between the people of the three countries will also become more profound.

Differences and Contradiction
Of course the various historical factors and the contemporary reality factors, coupled with the different national core interest of the three countries will allow the trilateral cooperation mechanism formed by the three countries to become a kind of relationship that: 'amid cooperation, there will be competition, and that among the consensus there will be differences.'
However, just as the Chinese philosopher Confucius said: 'Gentlemen will maintain harmony with others but will not agree to differences, but the opposite kind of people will agree to differences but will not keep harmony.' We trust that no matter how many differences and contradiction exist among China, Japan and South Korea, as long as they can resolve their conflicts and disputes through using the dialogue and non-confrontational channel, the three countries can establish the type of gentleman relationship of 'keeping harmony amid differences.' This kind of trilateral relationship should be strong and can withhold the test of time.

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