How can South Korea's "Eurasia Initiative" and China's " Belt and Road Initiative " mesh? If the two governments could reach a consensus, synergy will produce multiple effects in regard to Northeast Asian peace, common development and modernization.
New type of international public products
South Korean President Park Geun-hye proposed the "Eurasia Imitative" under various slogans of "one continent," "creative continent," and "peaceful continent," on Oct. 18, 2013 in a bid to strengthen cooperation across Eurasia. Park's proposals seek to expand transport, energy and trade networks and boost innovation-led growth while deepening personnel and cultural exchanges, and promote a trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula, and Northeast Asia peace and cooperation.
Meanwhile, on March 28, 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping said his "Belt and Road Initiative" would meet the demand for development of China as well as countries along the proposed routes as it is in the interest of all parties and complies with the global trend for cooperation.
To finance "Belt and Road" development projects, China initiated the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which was formally launched in January.
The Six-Party Talks, which China has actively promoted for a peaceful resolution to security concerns as a result of the North Korean nuclear weapons program, will prove to be the inescapable mechanism to achieve results. China needs to participate more creatively in international affairs, but the key is how to provide more and effective strategic aid and public products - such as the "Belt and Road Initiative" and the AIIB - for the international community.
The "Belt and Road Initiative" focuses on "common modernization." It is based on the principles of "common consultation, common development, and common benefit," and is dependent on enhanced connectivity in international cooperation through the so-called new diplomacy.
New stage for strategic co-op on the South Korea-China FTA
The ROK-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) represents a milestone in economic cooperation between the two countries with expectations of multiple supply-side effects since both countries will reap the benefit in the macro-economy and in industries involved in the FTA.
This is the first FTA in Northeast Asia where the international division of labor is already working well, and is also a long-term vision of the "East Asian Economic Community."
Based on the ROK-China FTA, the two governments should enhance cooperation on agriculture, manufacturing and services based on a docking of the industrial, value, and supply chains, creating industrial clusters with a certain scale in which cooperation on R&D and patents will be carried out.
Mechanism for economic co-operation and energy exploration in NE Asia
The ROK has been striving for railway projects that connect the peninsula to Russia, China, Mongolia, and on into Central Asia and Europe. At the same time, Seoul has also been mulling undersea tunnels linking China and Japan and docked with the Bering Straits Tunnel still in the concept stage. Once completed, the Korean Peninsula would be a central part of the Europe-Asia-America railway chain.
Although Northeast Asia is known for big power confrontation that hinders establishment of a multilateral cooperation mechanism, the economy is common ground.
Seoul-Beijing relations keep warming up following South Korea's willingness to join the AIIB and President Park's participation in China's V-Day Parade on Sept. 3 last year. The "energy exploration and economic cooperation mechanism in Northeast Asia" is where the two governments could work together for continuous growth amid current difficulties.
To make it happen, the "Eurasia Initiative" needs to mesh with the "Belt and Road Initiative." Second, South Korea should invite Russia and Mongolia to join the quadrilateral cooperation of energy exploration and economic cooperation, before sending an invitation to North Korea.
The essence of this cooperative mechanism lies in that the energy exploration applies to a wide range of investment opportunities. This cooperation, economic in nature and detached from political influences, can get round the various big power contentions.
Purely economic cooperation offers a new driving mechanism for "common modernization" in Northeast Asia, starting from docking different development strategies. Connecting the "Eurasia Initiative" and the "Belt and Road Initiative" then becomes a typical development mode in the new normal and a model for others to follow.
Kim Sangsoon is a fellow at the Charhar Institute.
The article was translated by Chen Boyuan. Its unabridged version was published in Chinese.
Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.