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‘Indo-Pacific Economic Framework’ not a blessing to Asia

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Aurthor: Xin Ping

The U.S. has been trumpeting that its “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” (IPEF) will bring prosperity to the region. But its sole purpose is to advance the “Indo-Pacific Strategy” and key interests of the U.S. instead of driving post-pandemic recovery, development and prosperity of the region. Asian countries need to brace themselves for the negative impact brought on by the framework which could be summed up as “four Ds.”

Division

IPEF is created to encourage regional economies to “decouple” from the Chinese market by leading them to alternative supply chains, a step that Washington believes will help exclude China from the regional trading and supply systems.

This would essentially install a closed, exclusive and confrontational arrangement within this region designed with clear geopolitical and ideological intentions, which runs counter to the principles of multilateralism.The U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai has openly described the IPEF as an “arrangement independent of China.”

Given China’s economic size and influence in the region and the possible consequences of artificially splitting the trading system and cutting off supply chains, such an arrangement would not be conducive to the unity and regional economic integration of the Asia-Pacific.

There are speculations that as far as ASEAN countries are concerned, the U.S. is trying to recruit Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam to join IPEF, while leaving out Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Brunei, which will undoubtedly affect the development of the ASEAN Community and undermine the unity of ASEAN.

Deprivation

The U.S. claims to support the centrality of ASEAN, yet IPEF apparently takes little heed of ASEAN’s preferred way of inclusive regional cooperation. A framework like this would only weaken and damage ASEAN’s centrality in the regional architecture.

IPEF’s proclaimed high standards in the fields of digital economy, labor, market supervision, environmental protection and anti-corruption are way higher than the standards set by domestic laws in some ASEAN countries and even by international conventions.

The Lane Xang EMU train arrives at the northern Laos’ border town of Boten, after passing by the China-Laos borderline, October 15, 2021. /Xinhua

In a sense, the U.S. could be forcing these countries to adopt certain domestic economic policies to serve U.S. interests. The exclusive and even punitive provisions contained in IPEF may contradict the commitments made in regional free trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Deviation

Putting forward IPEF is one of the 10 core tasks of the U.S. “Indo-Pacific Strategy.” The U.S. potentially aims to use IPEF to supplement its “Indo-Pacific Strategy” and establish a unilaterally dominant economic cooperation arrangement, rather than a true free trade agreement with mutual open market access and tariff exemption as desired by the regional countries.

It is, therefore, a deviation from the principles of openness, inclusiveness, equality and reciprocity that multilateral mechanisms and arrangements in the region have long followed.

Disappointment

The U.S. might hope to use IPEF to get regional allies and ASEAN countries on board to encircle China, but this is unlikely to materialize.

China and ASEAN are each other’s largest trading partners. Japan’s exports to China are roughly the same as those to the U.S., and imports twice as much from China as from the U.S. South Korea’s trade with the U.S. is only half of its trade with China. With RCEP having entered into effect early this year, the cooperation potential among regional countries will only be further unleashed.

The U.S. has repeatedly reneged on its words about Asia-Pacific economic and trade cooperation: the Obama administration had pushed forward the concept of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) before the Trump administration exited from it after taking office. Now the Biden administration has come up with IPEF. Inconsistency in Washington’s policy-making will only make regional countries question U.S. credibility and policy continuity.

As Mary Lafley, a senior researcher at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, pointed out, “Asian allies, still reeling from the unpredictable and destabilizing policies of the Trump administration, may be reluctant to invest much in new structures that can be as easily blown away as houses of straw.”

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Chief of Defence Force inducted into International Fellows Hall of Fame

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Chief of Defence Force Major General Abdulla Shamaal has been inducted into the International Fellows Hall of Fame at the National Defence University (NDU) in Washington, DC, United States (US).

Major General Shamaal received the award at the International Fellows Hall of Fame induction ceremony held at the Sydney Sheraton Grand Hotel. Lieutenant General Michael Plehn, the President of the NDU, presented the certificate and memento of induction into the International Fellows Hall of Fame.

Major General Shamaal is the first Maldivian to be awarded the honour. He and four others from four countries have been awarded the honour. He completed a Master of Arts in Strategic Security Studies from the NDU in 2012 and was awarded the Distinguished Honour Graduate of the course.

The International Fellows Hall of Fame was established in 1999. The purpose of the programme is to provide a prestigious and visible means of honouring NDU graduates who have attained through merit the highest positions in their nation’s armed forces, service component, or government, or who have held an equivalent position in a multinational organisation. The members of the International Fellows Hall of Fame are recognised in a formal ceremony on the NDU campus. Their photographs are displayed in Marshall Hall in the Hall of Fame area.

 

Source: psmnews

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Media urged to highlight nations’ joint BRI efforts

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A senior official underlined on Tuesday the important role of media in boosting high-quality cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative, urging international media outlets to tell about participating countries’ joint efforts to promote peace and prosperity, open, green and innovative development, and cultural progress.

Huang Kunming, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, made the remark in a video speech at the 2022 Media Cooperation Forum on Belt and Road, which was held in Xi’an, Shaanxi province.

Huang said that jointly building the Belt and Road was a significant initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping in line with the trend of global development and in answering the call of the times, with a view to advancing the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Since the initiative was proposed, infrastructure connectivity has advanced, the synergy of rules and standards has made progress and the bonds among people in countries involved in the initiative have been strengthened, Huang said.

The efforts to enhance Belt and Road cooperation have been deepened with fruitful results, and the initiative has become a global public good and a platform for international cooperation welcomed by the international community, he added.

Emphasizing the media’s important role in promoting the communication of information, enhancing mutual trust and building consensus, Huang said jointly building the Belt and Road is inseparable from the active participation of the media outlets worldwide as well as their sincere exchanges and pragmatic cooperation.

Looking forward, Huang expressed his hope that international media organizations will actively promote the perspective of civilization that features equality, mutual learning, dialogue and inclusiveness, make the voices of win-win cooperation heard and contribute to high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

The forum was held in both an online and offline format. It was jointly organized by People’s Daily, the CPC Shaanxi Provincial Committee and the Shaanxi provincial government. More than 120 media representatives from over 40 countries and international organizations attended the forum.

By the end of March, a total of 149 countries and 32 international organizations had signed cooperation documents with China on jointly building the Belt and Road.

From 2013 to 2021, the volume of trade in goods between China and countries involved in the Belt and Road amounted to around $11 trillion, and two-way investment exceeded $230 billion, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

 

Source: China Daily

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Management plans to be implemented this year for two protected areas in Baa Atoll

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The Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve Office has stated management plans will be formulated and implemented this year for two more areas in the atoll declared as protected areas.

Baa Atoll currently has 10 protected areas, of which three areas have a management plan. These three areas are Hanifaru, Olhugiri and Mendhoo region.

The Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve Office revealed management plans are being formulated for two more areas, to be implemented this year. As such, management plans are to be implemented this year for the areas of Angafaru and Goidhoo Koaru.

Angafaru was declared protected on June 6, 2009. The protected area includes Dhonfanuthila, Dhiguthila and Mahaanagaa. The area used to be a breeding ground for both grey and white tip reef sharks. However, reef shark numbers have dramatically decreased from the site due to overfishing

Goidhoo Koaru, located on the northern side on the inhabited island of Goidhoo, was declared protected on June 5, 2011. This area has the highest biodiversity and largest mangrove forest within Baa Atoll. It is one of the largest mangrove ecosystems within the nation and has a high biodiversity population of mangrove associated vertebrates and invertebrates. This site is also a popular roosting site for migratory birds such as the Ruddy Turnstone and Northern Shoveler.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has declared Baa Atoll as a biosphere reserve for an additional 10 years. UNESCO has instructed the Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve Office to formulate and implement effective management plans for all protected areas in the region.

 

Source: psmnews

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