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China, ROK, Japan should boost global development

By Hwang Jae-ho | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-04-01 07:58

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, the international community has encountered at least four crises: a human crisis because of the COVID-19 pandemic, an international security crisis following the Russia-Ukraine conflict, a global order crisis due to the US-China competition, and a global economic crisis because of rising protectionism and unilateralism in many countries.

The four crises have had a huge impact on economic globalization, and it appears we are walking toward "non-globalization", if not "anti-globalization".

In such a situation, tensions cannot be eased in Northeast Asia. The intense competition between the US and China raised tensions between China and other countries in the region, including the Republic of Korea and Japan. And non-institutionalized US-ROK-Japan cooperation is going beyond the institutionalized ROK-China-Japan relations represented by the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat.

Ironically, the trilateral ROK-China-Japan relationship in Northeast Asia has never been smooth, considering the uneasy relations between the ROK and China, the ROK and Japan, and China and Japan. Although ROK-Japan ties are showing some signs of improvement, the other two bilateral relationships still look unstable.

Nevertheless, considering the three countries' international status and respective comprehensive national power, maintaining cooperation as it is while competing with each other suits the countries' national interests and could promote global peace and development. This is better than being influenced by external factors and creating greater anxiety.

If the three countries are consistent with the trend of the times, they should work to create more opportunities for cooperation.

First, to ensure cooperation is mutually beneficial and competition fair and politics-free, the United States and China have to first reach a "gentleman's agreement". This will reduce the negative impacts their confrontation has had on the international community. Only if the Sino-US competition is based on good faith and fairness can it be possible for Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo to engage in rational give-and-take for mutual benefit.

Second, the three countries should act like "Noah's Ark" for countries that want to boost their economic development and share the fruits of regional and global development. Also, China, Japan and the ROK must adopt a generous approach toward other countries when it comes to providing public goods.

Elaborating on the new initiative at the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting on March 15, President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Civilization Initiative, calling for respecting the diversity of civilizations, advocating the common values of humanity, valuing the inheritance and innovation of civilizations, and strengthening international people-to-people exchanges and cooperation. And given the many pressing global challenges the world faces, countries can have a better future only by strengthening solidarity and cooperation and being together on "Noah's Ark".

Third, the three countries should help end the socioeconomic polarization within the international community, because that would pave the way toward common prosperity, achieving which is one of China's main development goals. And not only China but also the entire international community should pursue common prosperity, because it will benefit all.

China is capable of helping other countries get their fair share of global development fruits, and the ROK and Japan should also participate in such an endeavor.

Fourth, the three sides have common cultural roots. China, on its part, has announced it will help build a community with a shared future for mankind, and highlighted its concept of equitable global governance based on "extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits". It would be beneficial to all if Japan and the ROK participate in the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind.

And fifth, the three countries should demonstrate leadership by providing an economic lifeline for "development", a core issue for developing countries. They should share economic benefits of scientific and technological development with smaller countries. Sharing benefits through technological cooperation is an essential factor for the development and survival of small countries. And as mentioned in the report of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the country will "expand science and technology exchanges and cooperation with other countries, cultivate an internationalized environment for research, and create an open and globally-competitive innovation ecosystem".

Now is the time for the three countries to jointly build a development model to realize common prosperity. If they can do that, it is possible the international community's put greater trust in the leadership of the three countries.

The author is director of Global Strategy and Cooperation, professor of the Division of International Studies at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and TCS guest scholar.

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