The recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Beijing were a landmark in its history. They marked the beginning of a new period for Asia-Pacific economic cooperation, and a change of China's role in APEC.
The impact of the international financial crisis still lingers, and various economies in the world are recovering slowly with their growth remaining sluggish. By charting a new direction and launching new models for cooperation, the meetings created new momentum for regional economic cooperation. The impact of the meetings will be seen in the following three areas:
Firstly, the "Asia-Pacific dream" will guide the region's future development. At the APEC CEO Summit on November 9, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the concept for the first time. Xi said the dream is about jointly working for the prosperity and progress of the region, following the trends of peace, development and mutually beneficial cooperation. It is also about engendering more economic vibrancy, free trade and investment facilitation; ensuring greater security and opportunity for the people; and giving children a better environment to grow and live.
Secondly, Asia-Pacific economic integration will pick up speed. The APEC members endorsed a roadmap for promoting the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, which is a historic step toward possible trade liberalization and economic integration in the region. They also reached consensus on promoting regional connectivity.
To achieve this goal, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was established this past October. During this round of APEC meetings, China proposed a Silk Road Fund. Previously, it proposed the building of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the Silk Road Economic Belt, the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor, and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Now, the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area has yielded fruit, and breakthroughs are expected presently in negotiations on the China-Japan-South Korea Free Trade Area.
Thirdly, the harm inflicted on economic cooperation by political disagreements in the region is dwindling. Prior to the meetings, member economies sometimes quarreled with one another for political reasons. At the meetings, however, leaders engaged in constructive discussions. In particular, top leaders of China and Japan met for the first time after the two countries' tension flared over the Diaoyu Islands, hinting at a possible detente in their ties.
As the host of this year's APEC meetings, China has played a more active role in promoting regional economic cooperation, which is evident in the concept of the Asia-Pacific dream, the proposal for the Silk Road Fund, and the connectivity blueprint that it has put forward.
Held on the occasion of the organization's 25th anniversary, the Beijing APEC meetings will elevate Asia-Pacific economic integration to a higher level, and spur both regional and global economic growth.