11/21/2011, 00.00
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Beijing to entice Seoul and Tokyo with an anti-US free trade zone

In response to Washington’s Trans-Pacific proposal last week, China wants to persuade Korea and Japan to set up a trilateral free trade zone. However, old disagreements and hatreds are a major obstacle.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – Despite old hatreds and rivalries, China appears willing to privilege trade with its historic adversaries (Korea and Japan) rather than give in to the United States and join Washington’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which it presented at last week’s APEC summit. In Beijing, US President Obama’s statement that “as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future” is seen as a threat.

Official media in the Communist nation released early drafts of the countermeasure and proposed preliminary talks, which should be followed next year by formal negotiations to create an East Asia free trade zone.

Although Beijing might seriously consider joining Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has signalled Beijing’s intention to accelerate talks with Seoul and Tokyo, reported the Global Times, the English language edition of the People’s Daily.

“Wen proposed that joint studies by governments, industries and experts on the FTA from the three countries be completed by the end of this year and that formal negotiations on the trade pact begin next year,” the paper wrote.

In January 2010, South Korea, Japan and China had agreed to a feasibility study for a three-way free trade zone.

However, even though the goal is to limit US influence in the region, political differences and disagreements are likely to derail the project.

A source involved in trade told AsiaNews, “The plan has a few chances of success. It might be fascinating but, to work, all three partners must change many things.”
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