China-ASEAN common market would be stabilizer

By Zheng Yongnian (China Daily) 08:54, May 30, 2023

Editor's Note: The following are excerpts of a speech given by Zheng Yongnian, a researcher of politics with the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen), at the China-ASEAN Economic Relations Seminar held in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on Saturday:

Employees load durian to be exported to China onto trucks in Chanthaburi province, Thailand, in May 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

The current world order is in a challenging period. Both the international security pattern established since the end of World War II and the world economic order based on the World Trade Organization are facing huge challenges.

Over the past 40 years, the dynamism of development in Asia has been the strongest. Now China has become the second-largest economy in the world, Japan the third-largest, and India and Southeast Asian countries are also developing rapidly. Therefore, the development center of the world economy is in Asia at present.

Over the past decades, the economic relations between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have developed fast, but there is still a need for more economic cooperation and the continuous deepening of bilateral ties.

At present, the negotiations for the 3.0 version of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area are accelerating. However, this is not enough, so it is suggested that the two sides should work together to form a China-ASEAN common market.

This will not only promote sustainable economic growth in the region, but also bring peace and stability. The construction of a China-ASEAN common market would be beneficial for both parties.

Politically, it creates an opportunity for ASEAN countries not to take sides in the competition between China and the United States. Economically, in the context of international trade frictions and intensifying competition with regard to the global industry and supply chains, it is particularly important to promote China's institutional opening of rules, standards, management and other aspects.

From the perspective of ASEAN, the economic and trade exchanges among ASEAN countries are far smaller than those between them and non-ASEAN countries, so ASEAN itself has the motivation to integrate and build a common market.

At present, there are already a series of mechanisms and arrangements under negotiation in Asia, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, Digital Economy Partnership Agreement, etc. The construction of the China-ASEAN common market could help effectively integrate these fragmented mechanisms and create common regional standards.

Peace and development complement each other. Without peace, development will be hindered; without development, peace will have no way to gain a foothold.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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