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China 'constructive player' at APEC meetings: US expert

2014-11-13 17:02 Xinhua Web Editor: Mo Hong'e

China has showed it was a constructive global player at this week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Beijing, a US-based China expert said on Wednesday. [Special coverage]

"The APEC meetings certainly benefited China's objective to put China on the international stage as a constructive player," Douglas H. Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Xinhua in an interview.

The meetings saw a number of positive developments, such as an ambitious agreement on climate change between Beijing and Washington whereby both would dramatically cut carbon emissions over several years.

Commenting on Chinese President Xi Jinping's remarks at the APEC meetings, Paal said it "is a good sign" that China proposed "inclusiveness and open regionalism" in the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) process and in the institutions China is trying to foster in the region for infrastructure construction in Silk Road countries.

China has pledged 40 billion US dollars to set up a Silk Road Fund to finance the construction of infrastructure linking markets across Asia.

Xi held extended talks with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the APEC meetings, which yielded positive results. The two sides agreed to extend visas for students, business people and tourists, and signed an MOU on notifying each other of important military activities and a code of conduct for close encounters between military vessels and aircraft in international waters and airspace.

It was the second one-on-one meeting between Xi and Obama this year, following their meetings on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit held late March in The Hague, the Netherlands. Some analysts described the two leaders' meeting in Beijing as an opportunity for both China and the US to get beyond day-to-day disputes and look longer term, as it came amid growing tensions over issues such as cyber security and an encounter of Chinese and US naval ships in the South China Sea.

Despite some negative commentary in the media over the China-US ties recently, "yet the remarks from President Xi were not in character with those, and suggest there might be a turning point," Paal said.

While some analysts predict China and the US are destined for the kind of rivalry seen throughout history between rising powers and existent ones, Paal foresees no such clash.

"I'm not a hard realist like those who predict an indefinite clash is coming. And the reason is that the presence of nuclear weapons really takes off the table the kind of clashes (we've seen) over the last 2,000years between major empires," he said.

"I don't expect them to have that kind of clash and I think the Chinese leadership and the American leadership know they've got to try to prevent (that). A big announcement over this past week of the new confidence building measures between the two militaries are an acknowledgement of that reality and a means for dealing with it," he said. "So I'm kind of hopeful. We'll know after two or three months...whether that hopefulness is justified or not."

Indeed, military-to-military ties are expanding, exemplified earlier this year when China's navy for the first time participated in the US-led Rim of the Pacific multilateral naval exercises.

Still, ties are likely to be somewhat "scratchy" in the next two years, he said, citing the 2016 US presidential elections. China is often a target during public debate among presidential candidates aiming to clinch the White House.

The APEC meetings also sought to defuse some regional tensions in East Asia, notably during Xi's meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Paal said.

"It may not have been a very warm meeting, but it was a meeting, and it did help show that tensions might be coming to an end," Paal said.


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