The trouble maker [By Zhai Haijun/China.org.cn]
As the host country for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit 2015, the Philippines anxiously awaited confirmation of Chinese President Xi Jinping's attendance. There are several reasons for this.
Firstly, all other APEC members, including the United States and Russia, have confirmed their leaders' attendance. It would be a pity if China did not follow suit.
Secondly, the Philippines is vying with China over the South China Sea territorial issue. In 2013, Manila filed its case with the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, which intensified the conflict. The Philippines always attempts to internationalize and complicate what should be a bilateral issue.
Thirdly, Chinese leaders have been engaged in frequent diplomatic visits in recent months. From Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, Premier Li Keqiang visited South Korea, and attended the sixth meeting of leaders from China, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan on Nov.1; this had been suspended for the past three years. From Nov. 5 to 7, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid state visits to Vietnam and Singapore, and met Taiwan's leader Ma Ying-jeou in the latter on Nov. 7. Some observers thought China was trying to separate Vietnam from the Philippines, and so would not attend this year's APEC Summit to express its discontent about the latter's stand on the South China Sea issue.
However, that showed serious misunderstanding of China. Although tensions in the South China Sea have severely affected China-U.S. ties, the communication between the military of the two sides has been strengthened. On Nov. 4, for example, elements of the two navies conducted a first-ever joint military exercise in the Atlantic Ocean.
This is similar to Sino-Japan relations. China and Japan face not only a history plagued by war, but also a dispute over ownership of the Diaoyu Islands. Yet, bilateral relations have kept moving forward in recent years.
In China's eyes, the Philippines' stand on South China Sea is just like an innocent child, with whom China can't be bothered arguing.
The APEC Summit is closely tied to China's core benefits. During this year's meeting, China will introduce the implementation of the Beijing Summit of last year. No matter whether the host county is the Philippines, Japan or the United States, China will always be an active participant.
On Nov. 9, China's Foreign Ministry announced President Xi would attend the G20 summit from Nov. 14 to 16 in Antalya, Turkey, and then attend the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting from Nov. 17 to 19 in Manila at the invitation of Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III.
The Philippines has said it will not discuss the South China Sea issue at the meeting, showing that the Philippines' government has also realized the South China Sea issue will make trouble and intensify conflict only. The attitude - not to provoke any political issue at what is intended to be an economic meeting - is welcomed.
Asia-Pacific area is currently the most dynamic economic region all over the world, to promote economic and trade integration is beneficial to all relevant countries. We should practically promote the construction of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) which was advocated by the United States at the APEC summit in 2006 in Hanoi.
At present, there is a range of bilateral and multi-lateral free trade areas being negotiated or have been completed in the Asia-Pacific area. Only by removing obstacles of geopolitics and integrating all those free trade areas, could the FTAAP become reality in near future.
The writer is a researcher of The Charhar Institute.
The article was first published in Chinese and translated by Lin Liyao.
Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors only, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.