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APEC’s path to ‘golden 30 years’

A journalist walks past a poster at the APEC 2023 International Media Center in San Francisco, the United States, November 14, 2023. /Xinhua

A journalist walks past a poster at the APEC 2023 International Media Center in San Francisco, the United States, November 14, 2023. /Xinhua

Editor’s note: Imran Khalid, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, is a freelance columnist on international affairs. The article reflects the author’s opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

In his address at the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in San Francisco, Chinese President Xi Jinping articulated a visionary outlook for the region, emphasizing the commencement of another era of prosperity. He labeled the next three decades as the “golden 30 years” as a symbol of shared progress and sustainable growth in the region.

In articulating the roadmap for the forthcoming “golden 30 years” in the Asia-Pacific region, President Xi advocated for a transformative approach. Emphasizing innovation-driven progress, open economic policies, and environmentally sustainable development, his vision extends to fostering inclusive growth that benefits all strata of society. “We, the leaders of Asia-Pacific economies, must think very hard as to what kind of Asia-Pacific region we should have by the middle of this century, what we should do to usher in another ‘golden 30 years’ for the region, and how we can bring out the best of APEC in this process,” he said.

President Xi’s call is not merely about economic advancements but centers on the imperative of high-quality growth, aiming to propel the establishment of a cohesive Asia-Pacific community with a shared future. The emphasis on high-quality growth underscores a commitment to advancing beyond mere economic metrics, prioritizing the broader societal impact of development.

China envisions a collective destiny for the Asia-Pacific region, where the dividends of modernization are not confined to a select few but are distributed widely. In this vision, the pursuit of progress is intricately linked with the creation of a shared future, emphasizing the interconnectedness of nations in the journey toward the next era of prosperity.

Since its launch in 1989, APEC has emerged as a dynamic force propelling economic growth, standing as one of the Asia-Pacific’s pivotal regional forums. Comprising 21 member economies housing approximately 2.95 billion individuals, APEC commands a significant presence, representing roughly 62 percent of the global GDP and 48 percent of world trade in 2021.

The recent adoption of the Golden Gate Declaration during the two-day meeting solidified the commitment of APEC’s 21 economies to foster a regional trade and investment environment characterized by freedom, openness, fairness, non-discrimination, transparency, inclusivity and predictability.

However, realizing the promise of the next “golden 30 years” for Asia-Pacific economies hinges on unwavering adherence to this commitment. It necessitates a wholehearted embrace of cooperative relations and a resolute rejection of clique-building among regional economies.

APEC’s historical commitment to the rules-based trading system, anchored by the World Trade Organization, has been instrumental in catalyzing the extraordinary growth witnessed in the APEC region over the past three decades. The imperative now is to fortify this consensus to navigate common economic development amidst the escalating challenges and turbulences of our times.

In the midst of its dynamism, the Asia-Pacific region cannot afford complacency. The rising tide of anti-globalization sentiments and the specter of “decoupling” in certain regional economies, coupled with imbalances in development and the perils posed by geopolitical tensions and climate change, pose imminent threats to the region’s industries and supply chains.

Efforts to manipulate international norms, unravel economic connections, and exacerbate conflicts for self-serving interests clash starkly with the region’s pursuit of shared development and enhanced integration. Faced with these headwinds, APEC economies must unite and capitalize on their collective achievements, steering away from divisive paths and reaffirming their commitment to common progress. 

The APEC 2023 signs in front of the APEC 2023 International Media Center in San Francisco, the United States, November 12, 2023. /Xinhua

The APEC 2023 signs in front of the APEC 2023 International Media Center in San Francisco, the United States, November 12, 2023. /Xinhua

The APEC 2023 signs in front of the APEC 2023 International Media Center in San Francisco, the United States, November 12, 2023. /Xinhua

The challenges at hand necessitate a concerted effort to fortify regional cooperation and chart a course that safeguards the interconnected interests of the diverse nations within the Asia-Pacific. China’s urging for APEC economies to maintain a spirit of partnership, respecting diversity while recommitting to openness and inclusivity, aligns with the desires of the region’s populace for peace and prosperity.

APEC ought to champion open regionalism and propel the establishment of a free trade area (FTA) of the Asia-Pacific, considering the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) as potential foundational models. Embracing these principles, APEC can navigate the complexities of economic collaboration, reflecting the nuanced needs and ambitions of the diverse nations within the Asia-Pacific region.

China’s appeal for APEC economies to maintain a collaborative spirit that allows for diversity while reaffirming its commitment to openness and inclusivity aligns with the desires of the people in the region for peace and prosperity. APEC must support an open form of regionalism and actively work towards establishing a FTA of the Asia-Pacific.

Drawing inspiration from the RCEP and the CPTPP, these two frameworks can serve as foundational models for the envisioned trade area. In adopting this approach, APEC can play a pivotal role in shaping a more interconnected and cooperative economic landscape, reflecting the shared aspirations of nations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Marked by a growth rate that stands among the highest globally among major economies, China’s economic resurgence remains a steady and positive trajectory. The commitment to cultivate a market-oriented, law-based, and world-class business environment remains unwavering in China’s strategic vision. Importantly, the nation’s dedication to offering foreign investors equal and high-quality services remains a consistent and enduring aspect of its policy landscape.

Amidst the evolving economic landscape, China’s resolute stance on fostering a conducive environment for both domestic and international businesses reflects a continuity of principles geared towards sustainable growth and global engagement. 

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

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