Riding the tides

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Riding the tides

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum summit in Beijing seems to help ease tensions in the region. U.S. President Barack Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping agreed to establish a framework for military cooperation at Wednesday’s summit meeting to prevent an accidental military clash at sea or in midair. Both heads of state reached a consensus that they will resolve maritime disputes based on international norms. We welcome both leaders’ actions to reduce insecurities stemming from China’s rise and America’s rebalancing toward Asia.

Economic growth and development in the Asia-Pacific region can be maintained by an absence of military conflict. The two leaders’ agreement for the first time to set concrete targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which the two countries previously had utterly different approaches to, reminds us of the new need for the so-called G-2 to moves toward symbiotic relations, not confrontation and distrust.

The ties between Beijing and Tokyo also show signs of improvement, as seen in the first-ever summit between Xi Jinping and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the APEC meeting. The meeting offered a valuable opportunity to avoid a worst-case scenario of conflict over history or the disputed Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. Both leaders also agreed to kick off working-level consultations to devise a communication mechanism at sea. We will watch carefully to see if the standoff between China and Japan over Tokyo’s decision to purchase the islands two years ago will be peacefully resolved as it should be among reasonable nations.

President Park Geun-hye hammered out a landmark free trade deal with China in a summit with Xi and had a dinnertime chat with Abe. In a meeting with Obama, she listened to his explanations of the release of two Americans detained in North Korea on charges of trying to subvert the state.

However, Park still can’t find a way to thaw the icy inter-Korean relations. Although bigger stumbling blocks are the Abe cabinet’s revisionist views of history and Pyongyang’s double standards in its dealing with Seoul and Tokyo, the government must take a more aggressive - and a more flexible - approach to the issue to ride the new currents in Sino-American and Sino-Japanese ties.

Korea is the only country that can take the initiative for peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia as we are free from the shackles of history. The government must exert diplomatic efforts to play a pivotal role. JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 13, Page 34

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