Northeast to be common ground for China, South Korea

Updated: 2014-11-18 13:28

By Shin Bong-sup(China Daily)

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On Aug 19 this year, the nation's government released the New Northeast China Revitalization Plan. The plan laid out policies that were formulated after assessing the achievements of the first plan, released 11 years ago, and taking account of changes in the intervening years.

The new plan has 11 chapters and 35 provisions. It represents a blueprint for the future of three northeastern provinces - Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang - that have become the nation's fourth "growth axis" under the initial plan.

The new plan also relies on privatization and market mechanisms, which were emphasized last year by the Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

The new plan lists concrete projects that are intended to restructure State-owned enterprises and boost domestic demand. In particular, the strategy of expanding substantial cooperation with neighboring countries such as the Republic of Korea and Russia seems likely to accelerate.

Over the past decade, the Consulate-General of the Republic of Korea in Shenyang has strengthened cooperation with local governments in the three provinces in response to the original plan.

Bilateral trade expanded by 2.4 times during this period and investment increased by 30 times. Compared with other regions in China, however, conditions are still short of expectations. There is room for further bilateral cooperation.

It is time for the Republic of Korea and the three provinces to further develop their partnerships in economic cooperation on the strategic level. To do this, it is important to consider logistics-related cooperation in the Northeast region and pool our wisdom.

Some suggestions:

First, while no one disagrees that Northeast Asia will become the center of the global economy, dialogue on regional economic integration is being delayed relative to other economic epicenters. The recent conclusion of the Republic of Korea-China Free Trade Area negotiations is meaningful because this FTA will provide a strong systemic basis for establishing a regional economic community in Northeast Asia and joint growth. The region should open its geopolitical gates.

Second, concrete measures are needed. What we need is the Silk Road Express. which runs through the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia and the Eurasian continent. We need to establish a logistics network that connects land routes on the Korean Peninsula, the three northeastern provinces, Russia's maritime province of Siberia and the sea. This is in line with what President Park Geun-hye presented as the "Eurasia Initiative". The initiative will ensure permanent peace and stability by tying the Eurasian continent into one economic community, and by integrating the Democratic People's Republic of Korea into the international community.

Third, common interests must be realized. Economic operators in China, Russia and Central Asia should be able to exist and prosper together. When a Eurasian energy network comprising electricity, gas and oil transportation is established, comprehensive economic cooperation in the region will become possible and a large single market will be created. The region will stop being associated with historical splits, conflicts and competition. It will become an economic corridor. If this occurs, joint prosperity and growth will be realized.

The improvement in logistics will trigger further trade and investment. Borders should be areas for international cooperation, not conflict or competition. It is not important whether a border is a gate to the continent or an exit to the ocean.

In response to demand in the region and in order to strengthen cooperation in logistics, the Northeast Asia Logistics Cooperation Forum was held from Oct 22 to 23 on board a ferry that usually runs between Vladivostok, Russia and Donghae in the Republic of Korea.

The forum was hosted by the Consulate-General of the Republic of Korea in Shenyang, with participants from the local governments of the Republic of Korea, China and Russia. The event reaffirmed the necessity of the three countries' cooperation in logistics in the Northeast region.

Among the local governments of these regions, where multilateral cooperation has been rather scarce so far, this forum is being seen as the first occasion where multilateral cooperation in the area of logistics was officially discussed.

Through strengthening this kind of exchange and cooperation, I expect that the China Dream and the Republic of Korea's vision of the future will meet in the three northeastern provinces of China.

The author is the consul-general of the Republic of Korea in Shenyang