Demonstrating the Need for Global Coorperation

Last weekend, the heads of state of the 21 member nations of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation met in Shanghai, China to begin their annual summit.

Pat Leung
Guardian

The significance of the summit in current times cannot be overlooked by world leaders. Now more than ever, there is a need for the United States to demonstrate its solidarity with its Asian trading partners for the sake of the world economy, and for it to work on broad coalition-building with those nations, particularly its Asian Muslim allies.

Its economic substance aside, the summit was also an essential political forum for President George W. Bush, whose excellent statesmanship will have its day during the meetings.

Significantly, it was on Friday during APEC proceedings that Bush met Chinese President Jiang Zemin. The importance of a productive relationship between the two leaders cannot be overemphasized, and all signs seem to point to the cultivation of a fruitful working relationship between Jiang and Bush.

Bush has also had the opportunity to meet again with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The summit no doubt exposed him to an assortment of leaders with whom robust and industrious contact is vital.

It is difficult for anything occurring on the world stage after Sept. 11 not to be cast in the monolithic shadow of the events of that date.

However, APEC representatives are doing their best to enact a return to normalcy while still giving a nod to the need for solidarity among member nations.

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan has made explicit his desire that the APEC summit not be just another airing ground for the United States’ war on terrorism.

The subject has certainly received dialogue, however, and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was pleased to report that there was broad support among APEC member nations for a “”fight between justice and evil,”” though without specific references to the U.S.-British bombing campaign in Afghanistan.

This support does not come without some trepidation. One opportunity that the U.S. delegation has been quick to take advantage of has been reassuring Muslim members of APEC that the retaliatory campaign in the Middle East is in no way a strike against Islam.

APEC members in Indonesia and Malaysia, in particular have expressed concerns about the backlash that the attacks on Afghanistan will produce in the Muslim world.

Member nations such as Indonesia and the Philippines, however, can also provide support and understanding to the United States, having wrestled with domestic terrorism themselves.

The main importance of the summit comes, of course, in its opportunity to enact a return to normalcy for shaken national economies.

It is difficult to pretend at this point that the U.S. economy is not poised on the brink of a recession of some sort, particularly now that the United States is at war. The U.S. economic slowdown naturally carries with it the potential to send ripples throughout the world.

The mid-1990s saw a recession in Asia that threatened to pull at world economic stability. Now more than ever, it is important that the United States strengthen its economic links with its Asian trade partners, links which are undeniably vital to the well-being of the U.S. economy.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan reassured the Joint Economic Committee of Congress last week that though the economy is currently jittery, the long-term potential for growth and stability still remains.

APEC members have shown their faith in such a statement in the course of their encounters with one another so far. Attitude in that realm has the potential to make or break economies.

By focusing on the long term, as APEC has striven to do, members of the cooperative set an example on the world stage that helps to allay economic tremors.

The economy may well be the best means of enacting a return to normalcy post-Sept. 11. While some industries still demonstrate indecision and a mentality mired in apprehension — as illustrated by the trepidation of the Emmy organizers to settle on a date for their awards show — the financial world has worked to conduct business as usual.

The governing committee of the International Monetary Fund will meet in less than a month after having originally postponed its meeting.

The G20, comprised of members of the G8 and key financial ministers from emerging markets and world banks, will likewise meet.

Our economic future is never certain, and is even less so in the tumult of the often capricious Asian economy. However, the APEC summit is another road sign whose indicators demonstrate that where there is cooperation, there is progress and security in store.

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