China goes on the offensive against IPEF, presents it as an “economic NATO” to blunt its domination

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While US President Joe Biden has launched a new trade deal with 12 Indo-Pacific countries, including India, to improve trade, economic and investment opportunities, China, which sees the pact as a threat for its dominance in the region, went on the offensive against promising more openness, while the official media here called it an “economic NATO”.

On the eve of the Quad Summit in Tokyo, Biden on Monday launched the ambitious Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), which is an initiative to deepen cooperation between like-minded countries in areas such as the energy, supply chain resilience and digital trade.

The IPEF should send a signal that the United States is focused on promoting a strong economic policy for the region to counter China’s aggressive strategy on trade in the region. Countries that joined the launch of the US-led initiative include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand , the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The US-led trade deal has already caused consternation in Beijing as its Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the same day offered higher cooperation to the Indo-Pacific region with better projects and investments from the EU. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Speaking to the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) via video link around the same time the IPEF was launched on Monday, Wang said “the Asia region – Pacific is where China lives and thrives.”

“China will continue to focus on the Asia-Pacific for its benefit and make greater contributions to its lasting peace and development with concrete actions,” he said.

Without naming the IPEF, Wang said Beijing would push forward China’s joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement to counter the new trade initiative and economy of the Quad alliance.

He said Beijing will strengthen “dialogue and cooperation” with other Asia-Pacific countries to implement the Global Security Initiative (GSI), widely seen as Beijing’s initiative to counter the alliance. Quad, which includes India, USA, Japan and Australia.

He reiterated his criticisms against Quad, saying the region should relentlessly safeguard peace and stability and unequivocally reject any attempts to introduce military blocs and bloc confrontation in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We must remain committed to the peaceful settlement of disputes through dialogue and consultation, and oppose all words and actions that highlight tensions and provoke confrontation in the region,” he said, adding that the Asia-Pacific concept should not be diluted. and cooperation in the region must not be disrupted.

The state-run Global Times quoted Chinese strategic experts as calling IPEF an “economic NATO” while acknowledging that it will provide opportunities for countries in the region.

Beijing criticizes the Quad alliance as “Asian NATO” aiming to stifle its rise.

The initial list of IPEF member countries, as disclosed on Monday, is similar to that of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), with the absence of China, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar and with the addition from the United States and India, the daily report said.

He quotes experts saying that compared to the RCEP, the IPEF could be something like an “economic NATO”, with the United States adding concrete rules to its framework in the coming years to serve its interests.

Inclusion under the IPEF framework would bring economic benefits to ASEAN members in terms of investment and trade, Gu Xiaosong, dean of the ASEAN Research Institute of China, told the daily. Hainan Tropical Ocean University.

Vietnam, for example, could benefit from some “policy bonuses” under the framework to further boost its textile and digital exports to the United States.

Gu speculated that the United States should have chosen its IPEF partners based on both political and economic criteria, as countries that can help weaken China’s competitiveness in terms of industries are selected.

“Vietnam, as a country with a large market, and Malaysia, as a country that produces chips well, could be used by the United States to develop relevant supply chains to offset supply chains. of China,” Gu said.

Chinese experts say that in the next step, the United States may choose to distribute its industrial chains with different members under IPEF and carry out cooperation.

Countries whose economic scale is too small and are considered to have too close relations with China will not be considered by the United States, they said.

Since the United States still wields considerable influence over many countries in the region, IPEF might have varying degrees of appeal to different members.

Some ASEAN members have joined IPEF because the United States is proficient in many advanced technologies such as chips and software, and ASEAN members are concerned about possible American exclusion, said Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University of China. .

Still, the United States, in its containment campaign to curb China’s growth, may be willing to sacrifice some of its economic interests, experts have warned.

To deal with the situation, China should improve cooperation with RCEP, including speeding up digital partnership negotiations with ASEAN members, Wang Yiwei said.

Relations between China and Quad member countries have become strained, with Beijing increasingly challenging democratic values ​​and resorting to coercive business practices.

India, the United States and several other world powers have spoken of the need to ensure a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific amid China’s growing military maneuvers in the region.

China claims almost all of the disputed South China Sea, although Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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