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Lee Jong-heon: Trilateral relations matter under current economic conditions

By Meng Fansheng, He Zhuoyan (People's Daily Online)    18:34, March 29, 2019

The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference 2019 kicked off in Boao, south China's Hainan Province, on March 28, 2019. Lee Jong-heon, Secretary-General of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS) sat down for an exclusive interview with People's Daily Online, in which he emphasized the great potential that China, Japan and South Korea have for further cooperation under the forum’s theme of “Shared Future, Concerted Action and Common Development.”

Lee mentioned two aspects related to the ultimate goal of this year’s BFA. The short-term goal, in his opinion, should be to stabilize unpredictable relations between all countries. Secondly, he said it was important to create a shared political vision of peace and prosperity in the mid-to-long-term.

When it comes to the implications of the 2019 BFA under the backdrop of slowed world economic growth and the uncertainty surrounding global business and trade, Lee pointed out the importance of cooperation among different economic entities. He explained that the current precarious state of the world economy under rising protectionism and unilateralism would further endanger the fragile global economic system.

Promoting regional coordination between China, Japan and South Korea is one of the most important topics discussed during the forum. Lee reaffirmed the vast potential these three countries have, noting, “The combination of all three countries’ population, GDP and trade volume is approximately one-fifth of the world total.”

Lee noted that the three countries need strategic thinking, and focus on what is important for a shared future of peace and prosperity. “We need to establish sustainable and stable trilateral cooperation mechanisms without being influenced by unstable political difficulties, especially bilaterally,” he stressed.

The secretary-general also shared his opinion on the construction of Hainan’s Free Trade Zone and Free Trade Port, stating that the establishment of Hainan’s free trade system is a good start for the Belt and Road Initiative, noting that it could become an important link between Japan, South Korea and China. 

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(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Bianji)

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