Monday, October 15, 2018 08:11:51 PM
Geoffrey Harris :
As with any major historical event, perspective is needed before concluding what really happened. The timing of Donald Trump's visit to Beijing in early November was probably linked to the long-established date of the APEC summit in Vietnam a few days later. By tacking onto the programme visits to Japan, South Korea and the Philippines the tour seemed to contain more strategic substance than may really be the case.
Certainly, the US President delivered several speeches and, according to him at least, the red carpets were probably bigger than anyone had ever seen, but what was his message to allies and rivals in the region and around the world?
According to Trump, the visits and meetings confirmed his personal brilliance as a deal maker and certainly some big deals were announced in Beijing. He even offered himself as a great arbitrator supposedly able to help China and Vietnam resolve their territorial issues, although this did not appear to elicit much of a response from either country. According to the President's critics the tour, in fact, really highlighted how far the US had ceded leadership in the region to others.
In historical terms, the big event was the report by the Chinese President to the 19th Party Congress in which he made expressed a readiness for China to take a leading role in developing a global community of shared interests. Following his speech in Davos earlier in the year, President Xi Jinping seemed eager to occupy the empty leadership space left by Trump's "America First" actions and rhetoric.
Many US commentators saw Xi's Beijing speech as a wake-up call to the West. Trump congratulated Xi on a great political victory, but his dramatic, albeit welcome, abandonment of his almost xenophobic anti-Chinese rhetoric undermined his credibility and left unanswered questions as to his real intentions and strategy (if there is one).
Business deals were announced but on the major security issue, namely the DPRK nuclear threat it is quite unclear if anything meaningful will result.
From a historical perspective another major event took place alongside the APEC summit where US allies Japan, Canada, Australia and eight others signalled their readiness to seek a TPP trade agreement without the US. Indeed, some people said that TPP now stands for "Trump Pulls the Plug!"
On a more sober note, former US Trade Representative, Mike Froman, who led the US TPP negotiations under the Obama administration said that the fact that TPP is now finally advancing without the US: "Clearly, as the US retreats, the rest of the world is moving on."
For those in the US who until 2016 were helping advance the abortive Obama trade strategy, the administration looked increasingly as if it had been very effectively outmanoeuvred by Beijing and others.
For Europeans various lessons can be drawn
The US President in Beijing, Manila and Hanoi pointedly chose not to raise any of the human rights issues regularly highlighted by all his predecessors and the US Congress. Europe should not abandon its normative agenda even if it has to pursue it in a more pragmatic, realistic fashion. On this, Europe should fill the gap left, at least for now, by the US;
Europe should welcome efforts to save the TPP trade deal which the US might eventually reconsider. Expansion of trade with all the countries of the region but as China moves to accept the concept of regional globalism Europe should encourage it in the direction of rules-based globalisation. Similarly, the EU should maintain its readiness to engage with the US and to test its readiness to advance with discussions on TTIP. The Obama Administration's geostrategic overloading of trade negotiations may have proved abortive but both the TPP and the TTIP had enormous potential for America's partners;
as the EU moves to consolidate its global strategy and defence policy, even as BREXIT uncertainties remain, it should confirm its interest in peace and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. The presence of European Council President Donald Tusk at the ASEAN summit in Manila (which President Trump skipped) was an important signal as clearly the EU has an enormous direct interest in the peaceful resolution of conflicts such as those on the Korean Peninsula and in Myanmar. The Asia-Europe (ASEM) summit in Brussels next year will be an opportunity to advance in this direction. China and the EU share a common need for regional stability;
Europe should continue to work with China to safeguard and build upon such major global achievements as the Paris Climate Treaty and the agreement on preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons;
Interdependence is a concept with which the European Union and its leaders feel much more comfortable than the US. The EU has not suddenly noticed the idea of "win-win" cooperation. Unlike the former USSR, the People's Republic of China has always supported the idea of European integration, even though it started under US hegemony;
For the EU to maximise its own interests it will have to shore up unity and a shared approach to such issues as the Belt and Road Initiative with which some member states are much more comfortable than others.
China and Europe have a well-established understanding and a functioning strategic partnership. China may sometimes feel disappointed that its positive embrace of globalisation is not met with recognition from Europe and the US that it is genuinely a market economy.
Implementing the "opening up" foreseen by the 19th Party Congress could contribute to greater trust and unlock agreement with the EU on free trade, an investment treaty and acceptance of China's Market Economy Status.
Certainly, the EU is going through numerous political challenges, but it is not about to collapse. No-one plans to follow the UK out of the door and the economy is recovering. Instability in Europe's neighbourhood brings many dangers as seen in the refugee crisis.
Unlike Trump and Putin, China's leaders have offered no encouragement to populist, nationalist, anti-EU forces which do threaten stability in the Eurasia region. Indeed, cooperation within the Belt and Road framework sends precisely the opposite, positive message
China and the EU hold regular summits but without the spectacular elements that characterised the Trump visit. On substance both China and Europe have shown a common ability to follow long-term strategic goals which are in both sides' interests.
Most notably despite many changes of leadership on both sides they have avoided unpredictable and erratic positions and actions. They both accept that multilateral structures are as important as bilateral relationships.
In the coming years Europe should respond to the vision of President Xi's Beijing speech by providing an inspiring narrative of its own and rejecting the short-sighted "America First" narrow-mindedness.
As Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative, put it at the Asia-Europe Foreign Ministers meeting in Myanmar:
"These are times of change, and times of confusion. The global balance of power is shifting, alliances are evolving and changing, the system of multilateral global governance is often being questioned. And in a moment like this, we all need our cooperation, our partnership, more than ever.
Asia is a continent of immense potential and great economic strength. And there are many issues where our cooperation and partnership can immensely benefit your entire continent: on security, on connectivity, on non-proliferation, on climate change - Asia needs Europe."
This is the context in which China and Europe must take the lead.
(Geoffrey Harris is currently a visiting researcher at the Fudan Development Institute. He is also visiting Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges and the Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) in Suzhou. From 1976-2016 he was an official of the European Parliament).
The Editors' Council will form a human chain in front of the National Press Club today (Monday) to press for amendments to nine sections of the Digital Security Act. Earlier, the Council postponed the same program following an assurance from three ministers including the information minister Hasanul Haq Inu that ...
PTI, Washington :US President Donald Trump has said that he wants people with merit, who can help, to enter the country and not sneak inside the border illegally."I'm very tough at the borders. We've been very tough at the borders. People have to come into our country legally, not illegally. ...
Reuters, Tehran :The United States is seeking "regime change" in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday, adding that the current US administration is the most hostile that the Islamic Republic has faced in its four decades.Tensions have increased between Iran and America after US President Donald Trump withdrew from ...
Entertainment Report :After returning country popular TV actress and model Nadia Ahmed has acted in a new telefilm titled Debor, which is based on a life-oriented story. Written by Barrister Mostaq Ahmed, the telefilm is directed by Sanjay Barua. The shooting of the telefilm has already been done in the ...
MYSTERY shrouds the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi when Turkish authorities didn't revoke their claim that he was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul amid strong denials by the Saudi government. The Turkish newspaper "Sabah" yesterday reported that Khashoggi may have recorded his own death by his Apple Watch. ...
Showtime Desk :Shakib Khan's upcoming film has been finally named "Ektu Prem Dorkar," after changing the title twice.The film, directed by Shahin Sumon and produced by Shapla Media, was originally titled "Ektu Prem Dorkar Manoniyo Sarkar." The name was then changed to "Culprit." However, on Monday the director informed that ...
Natalie Qasabian and Sev Ohanian are handling the production of the film, which is being directed by Aneesh Chaganty. It is the next project from the creative team behind Searching, reports Variety. The Ocean’s 8 actor will be seen portraying the role of a mother of a teenage girl, who ...
FORTYone percent of all improved water sources in Bangladesh are contaminated with Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, which suggests a high prevalence of fecal contamination. The nation can reduce poverty and boost growth by taking immediate measures to upgrade the quality of water and sanitation, a World Bank report said.The ...
AFP, Paris :Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe's rapid rise to global fame has earned the teenaged World Cup winner an appearance on the cover of Time magazine's international edition, to appear on Friday.Time said Mbappe is a global superstar who is the "Future of Soccer."Mbappe made headlines in September 2017 ...
A FP, London :Britain's foreign secretary on Thursday warned that Saudi Arabia faces "serious consequences" if the suspicions of Turkish officials that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul turn out to be true."People who have long thought of themselves as Saudi's friends are saying ...