Malaysia is all set to host the 2020 APEC Economic Leader’s Meeting scheduled for November 20, which will be the first time that the leaders of the 21-member bloc will meet virtually on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting comes at a critical juncture as it coincides with the 2020 G20 Riyadh summit taking place a day later and the signing of the landmark Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) at the Hanoi virtual ASEAN Summit on the 15th of this month.
The upcoming meeting aims at further consolidating the Asia-Pacific’s significance as both an economic hub and a resilient region with a combination of high income, newly industrialized and developing countries all potentially benefiting from trade deals, regional connectivity prospects and joint prosperity for the future. The stakes are definitely high with plenty on the agenda.
The host Malaysia is a key economic player in the ASEAN region and has already hosted the first set of technical meetings in Putrajaya in February this year.
Kuala Lumpur also resorted to a digital format on account of the World Health Organization’s declaration that the COVID-19 quagmire was now a global pandemic.
Despite the devastating effects of the virus on the Asia-Pacific economies, the region has not shunned away from exploring prospects of economic revival, robust economic stimulus strategies and pioneering innovation to promote a business-friendly environment.
Furthermore, the region has remain unscathed from geopolitics, with the U.S.- China rivalry – due to undue provocations from the Trump administration in the South China Sea – failing to prevent ASEAN member states from pursuing non-partisanship as a policy in their relationships with Beijing and Washington, D.C.
The Malaysian venue of a virtual meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 25, 2020. /Xinhua
The focus of countries in the Pacific Rim such as Chile, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and even the United States would be to maintain APEC’s significance as one of the highest level multilateral blocs and oldest forums in the region.
To ensure APEC’s stature, economic leaders are expected to come up with a new vision that will act as the guiding principle of the platform’s work in the next few decades, including the ongoing COVID years. Malaysia’s theme is “Optimizing Human Potential Towards a Resilient Future of Shared Prosperity: Pivot, Prioritize, Progress.” The three Ps will be supplemented with efforts to implement the “Bogor Goals,” which carry historical significance.
In 1994, after the APEC meeting in the town of Bogor in Indonesia, it was announced that the year 2020 would be when the long-term objective of promoting free open trade and investments in the Asia-Pacific region was to materialize and become operational.
Since, then the Bogor Goals have become one of APEC’s flagship initiatives. The goals also make it incumbent upon member economies to reduce barriers to trade and investments and avert scenarios such as a region-wide drop in tariffs, which was witnessed in the 1980s.
In the lead-up to the meeting, the United States, as the most economically powerful member state of the bloc under the Trump administration, was involved in pernicious trade practices such as increasing tariffs with the aim of strangulating the Chinese economy, jeopardizing the entire objective of the Bogor Goals.
It is therefore necessary that this meeting ensures that members implement unilateral policies as well as negotiate bilateral, multilateral and regional agreements provided that they are consistent with the rules of the World Trade Organization.
The successful implementation of the Bogor Goals will become a testament to the worldwide commitment of APEC toward multilateralism as a solution to pressing economic issues of the modern era, which are largely related to the pandemic.
Many of the goals envisioned in 1994 were realized in the 2018 Bogor Goals Progress Report, which details how tariffs had fallen, free trade agreements improving market access were inked prior to RCEP, and customs reforms made it easier for free trade to take place unabated. However, there are areas which need improvement.
APEC members with large agricultural sectors have encountered higher tariffs, which have a direct impact on their current account balances. Similarly, non-tariff measures have also accumulated over the years alongside restrictions on foreign investments in service sectors.
While mitigating the effects of the pandemic on regional economies would be a top priority for APEC states, emphasis would also need to be placed on the few loopholes which remain as well as comprehensive implementation of the the Bogor Goals in both letter and spirit.
One of the main reasons why the 2020 APEC meeting holds much promise in consolidating the Asia-Pacific region’s status as an engine of growth is because most actions already taken for the past few decades have significantly benefited the region prior to the onset of the pandemic. Trade continuing unabated has resulted in a decline in poverty levels in member states such as China, Indonesia and Vietnam.
The number of citizens under the internationally recognized poverty line of less than $1.25 per day, prior to 2015 when it was revised to $1.90, has been reduced by half a billion since 1990.
Agility, inclusive economic growth with the result of shared prosperity, will most definitely define the Asia-Pacific region alongside exploring strategies of dealing with pandemic-stricken economies in the upcoming meeting.
All eyes would be on what will be inked down and agreed upon in yet another significant multilateral forum.
Danish Scholar: Report by U.S., Canadian Think Tanks on Xinjiang is Full of Lies
In March, the U.S. Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy and the Canadian Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights published a report on Xinjiang, fabricating lies to attack the human rights situation in the region. In response to this so-called “academic report,” European scholars have jointly published a report, noting that the Newlines institute has close ties to the U.S. government and that the identity of the experts who drafted the study is unclear.
In a recent exclusive interview with China Media Group, Danish scholar Jan Oberg, also the co-founder of The Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research (TFF), said that the data in the report released by the American and Canadian institutes were full of falsehoods and had no academic basis.
Xi Jinping Visits Relocated Nanyang Locals for China’s Mega Water Diversion Project
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday paid a visit to relocated residents for the country’s mega water diversion project on the second day of his trip in Nanyang, central China’s Henan Province.
His visit this time marks his sixth inspection around the country this year, following southern areas of Guangxi and Fujian, southwest province of Guizhou, northern province of Hebei and capital Beijing.
To quench the thirsty north
The South-to-North Water Diversion Project – the world’s largest operation of its kind – was designed to optimize the allocation of water sources of the country and quench the thirsty north. Essentially, that would require taking water from China’s longest river, the Yangtze, through the project’s eastern, middle and western routes to feed the north.
On Thursday afternoon, Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, went to the county of Xichuan, where he inspected the Taocha Canal Head, the Danjiangkou Reservoir and the village of Zouzhuang.
Xi listened to updates on the construction, management and operation of the middle route of the water diversion project, and the ecological conservation of the water source region.
He also learned about the resettlement of people relocated because of the project, and measures to develop specialty industries and boost the incomes of resettled residents.
Xi told the villagers that he was concerned about their livelihoods and the whole nation should be gratitude for their sacrifice to make people along the route to drink good quality water.
According to official data released in February, over 40 billion cubic meters of water were transferred through the project’s middle and eastern routes since part of the project went into operation.
The middle route of the project – the most prominent of the three routes of the project – starts from the Danjiangkou Reservoir in central China and runs across Henan and Hebei provinces before reaching Beijing and Tianjin.
Xi also visited a villager surnamed Zou. Zou said life is getting better thanks to the leadership of the CPC.
“This year marks the 100th founding anniversary of the CPC. 100 years ago, the CPC was founded to make a good life for the people, not for its own interests,” Xi said.
“The 100-year history of our Party’s struggle is the history of working for the happiness of the people. The people are the rivers and mountains. The Party fights for and guards the rivers and mountains, all for the happiness of the people,” Xi stressed.
How Does Xi Jinping Express Gratitude And Love to his Mother?
As International Mother’s Day, an important occasion that falls on the second Sunday of May every year, will be celebrated on May 9 this year, the media started reporting moving stories about mothers and children.
Among the stories, Xi Jinping’s stands out as he is not only a son but also the president of China.
How does the president express gratitude and love to his mother? Xi’s way can be figured out when he stressed the importance of family bonds and family love and emphasized family education on many occasions.
Xi Jinping and his mother Qi Xin. /CCTV
Pass down family tradition
When President Xi delivered his first New Year address in 2013, photos placed on his bookshelves caught the online community’s attention, especially the image of him walking hand in hand with his mother.
Xi is a filial son. He chats with his mother Qi Xin, and takes a walk with her whenever he has time.
While meeting with representatives to the first National Conference of Model Families in December 2016, Xi told a story about family education. The conference was the first of its kind to honor model families selected nationwide. A total of 300 model families were honored.
“When I was a child, my mother gave me a picture-story book series－’The Legend of Yue Fei.’ One of its more than 10 volumes shows Yue Fei’s mother tattooing four characters saying ‘serve the country with the utmost loyalty’ across his back,” Xi said, adding that the story of Yue Fei, a well-known ancient military figure fighting against invasion, deeply impressed him.
Qi led a simple life, which became a tradition for the family. No matter how painstaking to take care of the family while working, she never compromised her work. Her lifestyle and the family atmosphere guided Xi’s values.
“A person who failed to be incorruptible and self-disciplined will become a person with no guts. Keep in mind that honesty is a blessing and greed is a curse while establishing a correct view of power, status, and interests,” Qi once wrote in a letter to Xi, reminding him of self-discipline. Xi has incorporated these beliefs into his ideology and governance practices.
Calling corruption the “biggest” risk to the Party’s governance, Xi has stressed there is “no alternative” but to fight corruption against all odds and called for rigorous self-discipline within the Party.
While going after corrupt officials, including both high-ranking “tigers” to lower-level “flies” on the domestic front, Beijing has also carried out such operations as “Sky Net” and “Fox Hunt” to hunt down venal officials who have fled abroad.
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