China Thinks Ahead: Asian Union in the Works

After Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Saudi Prince Abdullah, Chinese leader Jiang Zemin became the fourth world leader honored with an invitation to a barbecue summit on George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford. Some journalists (Chinese and foreign) see it as a sign of the highest honor for the Chinese leader before his retirement. In fact, this is obviously a smart political trick by China. October in China was devoted to the preparation for this visit: the newspapers abounded in praises of the USA’s address; much was published that could be considered gifts to President Bush. The release from house arrest of the 1989 May activist Chen Ziming and fighter AIDS activist Wan Yanhai are also such gifts.

The birthday of an American writer who glorified China, Pearl Buck, was celebrated in China in the middle of October; Jiang Zemin personally made a calligraphic inscription in honor of one of the American pilots shot down over China in WWII; a representative office of the FBI was opened in the Chinese capital. Finally, China made the decision to cut down on exports of military weapons and chemical and biological technologies of double usage. For its part, Washington agreed to include the Uigur separatist group Eastern Turkestan on the list of terrorist organizations, which is a weighty concession to China.

The truth is that the world’s only “super-power” has turned out to be unusually dependent upon other countries at the moment. Theoretical economist Jeffrey Sacks doubts that “the traditional concept that war stimulates economy” is right. As “even a limited war with Iraq may break the international flow of goods, services, and investment.” Sacks thinks that “the direct micro-economic stimulus, which might be the result of military spending, would be destroyed by the uncertainty and destruction caused by the war.” Only “a quick and successful war, widely supported in the UN” would prevent such devastating economic consequences. A blitzkrieg authorized by the UN for the USA to seize Mideast oil is the real reason why George W. Bush is making such advances to the permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, France, and China).

Right before Jiang Zemin’s departure for the USA, Pyongyang confessed that it has nuclear programs, which certainly created more problems for George W. Bush in the Mideast region. In this connection, the importance of the barbecue has considerably increased; Washington politicians repeat again and again that the USA needs China’s help to settle the Korean crisis.

All pictures from the barbecue summit demonstrate that Bush and Jiang Zemin are happy with the results of the summit. Although at the concluding press-conference the Chinese leader expressed his support for America’s “anti-terrorist” war, some American media are disappointed: Jiang Zemin’s statements concerning Iraq and North Korea were not strong enough. Jiang Zemin probably managed to demonstrate to George Bush his loyalty and bound himself by no obligations.

Therefore, it seems that China’s main objectives are currently to avoid engaging in a cold war with the USA, as well as to gain time to strengthen its own economy and to secure a strong geopolitical rear, in Eastern Asia mainly.

It should also be mentioned that, together with Chinese –American relations, China has been actively developing diplomatic relations with ASEAN countries in October.

China is actively participating in the realization of large-scale projects for construction of the Trans-Asiatic gas pipeline, Pan-Asiatic railway, and the Program for the development of the Me-kong zone. China recently signed an agreement on financial co-operation with Malaysia and an agreement to provide loans to Indonesia.

The volume of China’s trade with ASEAN countries exceeded $41 billion in 2001 (this is almost four times that with Russia). A free trade zone between China and ASEAN counties is to be created within 10 years. The problem of the introduction of a single Asian currency, similar to euro in Europe, is currently being actively discussed. The Chinese yuan could be used as a basis for it.

At the beginning of November, Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji will take part in the 6th meeting of the leaders of ASEAN countries China, Japan, and South Korea (the meeting will be held in a 10 plus 3 format); in the meeting of the ASEAN and Chinese leaders (in a 10 plus 1 format) and in the summit for sub-regional economic cooperation in the Me-kong River basin.

Doesn’t this seem like the creation of something similar to a East-Asian Council for Mutual Economic Aid, a creation of an economic union to guarantee an economic basis for the East in its opposition to pressure from the West?

The US-led anti-terrorist war and the US’s risky Mideast policy and aggression toward the so-called “axis of evil” help this tendency mature. The East-Asiatic Council of Mutual Economic Aid would become a safe geopolitical rear for China; it would insure China from risks while incorporating in the world globalization and help with the creation of a new politically nfluential “pole” in the world.

Andrey Krushinsky PRAVDA.Ru Beijing China

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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