World Leaders Meet at ASEAN and APEC Summits to Discuss Economic Strategy
The ASEAN summit took place on Thursday in
Singapore as world leaders from the Asia-Pacific region and the West met to discuss
enhanced trade and security as well as new approaches to regional economic
development. Vice President Mike Pence stood in for President Donald Trump, and
stressed the "steadfast and enduring" American commitment to the Indo-Pacific
while reminding the ASEAN leaders that there is no room for "empire or
aggression" in the region. "Our vision for the Indo-Pacific excludes no nation. It
only requires that every nation treat their neighbors with respect, they
respect the sovereignty of our nations and the international rules of order," Pence said.
Meanwhile, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang sought
to reassure China's neighbors by advocating for the protection of the rules
that govern global trade. China expressed concern about the U.S. rejection of
multilateral trade regimes that has resulted in tariffs on billions of dollars'
worth of Chinese products. In a meeting with ASEAN leaders, Li argued that the
region needs to "take concrete action to uphold the rules-based free
trade regime and to send a message — a positive message — to the market to
provide stable, predictable and law-based conditions for the market."
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who attended
the ASEAN summit, collaborated with President Xi Jinping recently to call for
openness and inclusivity on the heels of pledging to link their economic visions. While
the Eurasian Economic Union puts Russia at the center of a single market for
goods and services, China's new Belt and Road Initiative promises $1 trillion
of new trade deals and stronger cultural ties with over 80 countries. With Xi's
slated attendance at the APEC summit in Papua New Guinea this weekend, China is
working to "expand practical cooperation with Pacific Island
countries in trade and investment" and "lend impetus to their common
U.S. Officials Introduce Xinjiang Bills in House and Senate
This week, Washington lawmakers put forward legislation encouraging the Trump
administration to pursue a strong response to the alleged mistreatment of China's Muslim minority in
Xinjiang province, in the wake of mounting international pressure on the Chinese
government over the issue.
On Wednesday, U.S. officials introduced bills
in the U.S. House and Senate that call for the secretary of state to consider invoking the Global Magnitsky Act to
impose sanctions on Chinese officials as a response to "gross violations of
universally recognized human rights, including the mass internment of over
1,000,000 Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in China,"
the bill reads. Responding on Wednesday, Foreign
Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying argued that U.S. lawmakers should
"pay more attention to affairs of their own country, and. . .make U.S. ethnic
minorities feel the same as China's 56 ethnic groups in terms of freedom, sense
of gain, safety and happiness."
Writing for China-US Focus, Doug Bandow argued that while Western governments
"recognize the challenge of dealing with Muslim extremists," Beijing's policies
in Xinjiang "are seen as stepping back from the global leadership to which
China appeared to aspire."
Jared McKinney argued recently that the
Xinjiang issue is an "unquestionably core interest" for the Chinese government,
but has "the potential to enter the mainstream of American political discourse
in a way that could destroy normal relations between the two countries." Read Jared McKinney and Doug Bandow's thoughts on the issue on our
Reinstatement of Ban on Rhinoceros Horns and Tiger Bones
Last month, China's cabinet took action to reverse a 25-year ban on the trade of
rhinoceros horns and tiger bones for medicinal use, leading to criticism from
environmental groups across the world for undermining the country's efforts to
act as a leader in environmental responsibility. On
Monday, the Chinese government conceded to environmental groups and the United
Nations and announced that it would temporarily postpone last month's order to reverse the
Some analysts have speculated that the trade
war between China and the United States influenced China's original decision to
reverse the ban. According to China policy expert Peter J. Li, President Donald
Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord has effectively meant that the
United States has withdrawn as a leader in "global environmental governance." Additionally, the trade war has caused the relationship between the United
States and Chinese governments to deteriorate. As a result, Li argues that
China no longer feels obligated to heed Western pressure when it comes to
environmental issues. Thus, it can act in what it feels to be the "country's wildlife business interests."
It is unclear whether the ban was temporarily
reinstated because of international criticism or an inability to reach a
consensus on the regulations, but wildlife advocates are pushing to ensure that
the ban becomes permanent and is even expanded to
include all rhinoceros and tiger parts/products.
"It Is Not Too Late to Prevent a Sino-American Cold War"
In a piece for China-US Focus this week,
Professor Minxin Pei analyzes the unsettling consensus that is fast forming in
the U.S. strategic community: that the United States and China are headed
toward a long-term geopolitical conflict. Pei argues that while "the two
countries may never return to constructive engagement, they can probably avoid
a destructive cold war." Read his outlook on our website.