Good ties with neighbors key to prosperity

By:From:English Edition of China Daily | Updated: 2019-Jun-5 15:45
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China's relations with the United States have been facing difficulties for some time, which has become a major concern for the Chinese people and the international community.

China-US relations go far beyond the bilateral scope, so that even the slightest disruption would send shockwaves to the far corners of the world. Since China and neighboring regions have long been a community of shared interests, rising and falling together, the policy of "America First" will harm not only China's interests, but also those of its neighbors.

China and its neighbors share a common understanding on the need to mitigate pressure from the US. First, they understand that peace does not come easily and must be maintained. Second, they want cooperation with China to continue in trade, investment, technology, infrastructure, tourism and other wide-ranging areas. Third, they know action must be taken to support free trade and globalization, and counter economic and technological hegemonism. Fourth, China's neighbors don't want to take sides between China and the US. Their position is determined by fair sense and market rules; it is not something one can simply impose on them.

A good relationship with the US is very important for China. There is no denying the worsening of the ties will have a long-term effect on all fronts. That said, relations with the US are by no means all that China has, and the US benefits from the bilateral cooperation no less than China does.

Despite mounting pressure from the US, China must stay committed to the policy of reform and opening-up as well as the principle of mutual benefit in its collaboration with the outside world.

Blueprints of the Guangdong´╝ŹHong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the Hainan Free Port and the Yangtze River Economic Belt must be translated into action as soon as possible to keep foreign-invested companies engaged and attract more investment from the neighborhood.

It is more important than ever for China to cement its relations with its neighbors by committing more efforts and resources to the region.

Trade is still at the core of China's cooperation with its neighbors. It must make sure trade with Japan and the Republic of Korea will not come down, and must upgrade the China-ASEAN free trade agreement and expand trade with Russia and Central Asian countries. Efforts must also be made to increase two-way trade and investment with the Middle East and expand market access for farm products from Southeast Asia and South Asia. This will help China maintain a trade balance and address key concerns of these countries.

Top priority should go to infrastructure cooperation. Infrastructure building is one of China's key strengths and is badly needed in neighboring countries. Cooperation on infrastructure projects delivers benefits for generations and should be pushed forward with well-conceived plans and a long-term view as part of Belt and Road commitment.

The Russian Far East and Mongolia must be part of Northeast Asia cooperation. Central Asia and the Gulf region hope to engage China in their infrastructure development as well. China's performance in these projects will convince the world that China can be relied on for cooperation that brings benefits to both parties.

Enthusiasm is high among China's neighbors in technology cooperation. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad recently commended China for its technology progress and expressed hope for exchange and cooperation with China. His statement is highly representative. Chinese companies operating in neighboring countries should focus on product and corporate competitiveness by raising the technology standards of their products.

A broader vision is required from Chinese companies to serve sustained development of the local communities and economic growth of the wider region. Greater efforts are needed in human resource training for China's neighbors.

Asian countries must prepare for uncertainties by strengthening forward-looking cooperation in the financial sector. China played a crucial role in steering the region out of the Asian financial crisis. Despite changes in the global and regional landscape, sticking together as one community in times of difficulty remains the golden principle for the region.

Relations between China and its neighbors have been like passengers sharing the same boat. And that is the right approach to achieve common prosperity and progress, and an effective way to counter external pressure.

Hu Zhengyue is vice-president of the China Public Diplomacy Association. Zhang Ying is dean of the School of Interpreting and Translation of Beijing International Studies University. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.