[Global Times Comprehensive Report] US President Biden ushered in the highlight of his Asian trip in Tokyo, Japan on the 23rd - announcing the launch of the "Indo-Pacific Economic Framework" (IPEF).

The Associated Press said Biden's announcement marked the imminent start of negotiations among IPEF participating countries to determine the final content of the framework.

Although the framework needs to be refined, many media reported that the framework "pointed at China" strongly or specifically mentioned that "there is no China" among the member states of the framework.

The US boasted that the framework has 13 initial members, including the US, Japan and South Korea, and its GDP accounts for 40% of the world's GDP. However, many media and scholars have reminded that the IPEF is "more like an open bar party" with no substantial benefits, no tariff exemptions, and no Wider market access is more like a "political arrangement" to serve U.S. interests.

In response to the launch of the IPEF by the United States, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on the 23rd that the United States should act in accordance with the free trade rules, rather than starting a new one, attacking the current regional cooperation structure and reversing regional integration.

"Is the U.S. politicizing, weaponizing, and ideologicalizing economic issues, and using economic means to coerce regional countries to choose sides between China and the U.S.? The U.S. owes the regional countries an answer."

 13 initial member states

  "This framework is a commitment to work with our close friends and partners in the region to address the most important challenge of ensuring economic competitiveness in the 21st century." Biden said at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the 23rd. .

According to a statement issued by the White House on the same day, IPEF has 13 initial member states, namely the United States, Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. 40% globally.

The statement highlights four key pillars on which IPEF focuses: a connected economy (trade), a resilient economy (supply chains), a clean economy (clean energy) and a fair economy (anti-corruption).

  The Wall Street Journal said on the 23rd that IPEF is the most ambitious attempt to establish economic relations with Asian countries since the US government withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in 2017.

Unlike traditional trade agreements, the IPEF has no plans to negotiate tariffs and ease market access -- because these are increasingly unpopular with US voters and difficult to pass in the US Congress.

Instead, the framework expects to bring partners together by "agreed standards" in four main areas: the digital economy, supply chains, clean energy infrastructure and anti-corruption measures.

  It is worth noting that although China was not mentioned in the statement issued by the White House on the 23rd, many Western media analyzed that the framework was aimed at China when reporting the matter.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Raimondo also said that IPEF provides "an alternative to China" for Asian countries on the above-mentioned important issues.

  "IPEF is by no means a framework concept of regional economic and trade integration in the traditional sense, nor is it a bilateral free trade agreement promoted by former US President Trump during his administration." Chen Jia, a researcher at the International Monetary Institute of Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on the 23rd. "The reporter said that the purpose of IPEF is very clear, that is, to establish a mechanism to fill the "vacuum" in the Indo-Pacific region caused by the Trump administration's withdrawal from the TPP.

In addition, the United States is not in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world's largest free trade agreement, which has prompted the United States to seek to increase its presence in the region's economic structure with China through the IPEF.

  "The day before the US launched the IPEF, the Chinese foreign minister warned that the US strategy in the Indo-Pacific region was 'doomed to failure'," Agence France-Presse said. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said after talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal on the 22nd. The U.S. "Indo-Pacific strategy" is bound to be a failed strategy, and a big question mark should be placed on the U.S. "Indo-Pacific economic framework".

Many countries do not want to show a gesture of containing China

  Some initial member states are reluctant to understand IPEF from the perspective of "containing China".

According to Reuters, the initial members of the framework will need to negotiate the standards they want to adhere to, how they will be enforced, whether domestic legislatures will need approval and how they will view future potential members, including China.

  According to South Korea's KBS TV station, South Korean President Yoon Sek-yue attended the IPEF kick-off meeting by video on the afternoon of the 23rd.

According to the report, because the IPEF is considered to have the nature of "containing China", South Korea is worried about China's protests or economic retaliation.

In this regard, the Presidential Office of South Korea stated that the focus of IPEF is to maintain the stability of the supply chain, "not to exclude specific countries such as China".

Yin Xiyue said on the 23rd that the content of IPEF has not been determined, and it is currently in the process of formulating economic and trade related rules in the Indo-Pacific region.

South Korea's "Asian Economy" reported that South Korean Foreign Minister Park Zhen also said on the 22nd that it is unrealistic to talk about the Indo-Pacific economy without China, and South Korea can play a leading role in attracting China to participate in the relevant rules and order.

  India's "Economic Times" published a commentary on the 23rd, saying that IPEF is ultimately a "political arrangement" led by the United States.

India has also been hesitant to join the framework.

The Deccan Herald said that after days of tense contacts between U.S. and Indian officials, India finally agreed to participate in the IPEF after the U.S. revised the text of the official statement to reflect that the framework is still in the negotiation stage and will continue to be open to other countries. start up.

The report said that India was caught in a dilemma over joining the IPEF because of its unwillingness to be seen as joining forces with the US to contain China.

  "Nihon Keizai Shimbun" said on the 23rd that in the context of Sino-US competition, Singapore strives to maintain a neutral position.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in an interview with the newspaper that Singapore's participation in the US-led IPEF is a valuable signal for the Biden administration to recognize the importance of Asia's economic diplomacy.

Singapore also supports China's Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Development Initiative, and is a member of the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative.

The proportion of China's economy in the global economy has increased. If it does not develop trade with China, it will not only pay a high price, but also create more friction.

He also said that the fledgling IPEF cannot completely replace the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

"Ideally, you want the US and Asian countries to have a free trade agreement, but they (the US) can't do it. The IPEF is not a free trade agreement, but a framework that reflects both sides' intention to cooperate on projects related to the region." He Say.

 "Whether the IPEF can survive until the end of Biden's term is a big question"

  Although U.S. officials say the Indo-Pacific economic framework represents a "new way of cooperation that goes beyond traditional trade agreements," some experts believe that its impact on the Asian economy is unclear, and it is not very attractive to other countries.

  Sullivan, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs of the United States, mentioned at a press conference on the 23rd that several ASEAN countries joined IPEF as initial members.

According to a report by the US Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC) on the 23rd, an Asian diplomat said that some ASEAN member countries could have participated in the launching ceremony of the IPEF, but according to Japanese Finance Ministry officials, due to the lack of tariff reduction in the framework, etc. Actual incentives, many countries in the region are reluctant to join.

"It looks like the White House has decided to make the IPEF launch more like an open bar party, where everyone is invited," said Goodman, a trade expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. more substantial benefits.”

  Chen Jia said that the impact of IPEF on the entire Asian economy is still unclear.

For example, the essence of IPEF's so-called "stabilizing supply chain" is to reconstruct the supply chain and disperse the supply chain originally originating from China to each member country, but whether this can truly stabilize the global and regional supply chain is a big question.

More importantly, the IPEF is currently a framework that needs to be established for a long time, but whether it can "live" to the end of Biden's term is another big question.

  "Biden's key problem in Asia is that he is constrained by U.S. domestic trade politics," said Thomas, a China analyst at political risk consultancy Eurasia Group. "Asian countries want exactly what Biden can't provide, which is More opportunities to enter the U.S. market." The "Nihon Keizai Shimbun" analyzed that for participating countries, IPEF lacks the attractiveness of the opening of the U.S. market.

In addition, the Biden administration does not need congressional approval if it does not include tariff relief negotiations in the IPEF's negotiating area.

Participating countries are generally concerned about whether the agreement will be effectively followed once the US regime changes.

  Wang Wenbin commented on the 23rd that China believes that no matter what the regional cooperation framework is, it should promote free trade and should not engage in disguised protectionism; it should help the recovery of the world economy and should not undermine the stability of the industrial chain; it should promote openness and cooperation, Geographic confrontation should not be created.

"The artificially created economic decoupling, technological blockade, industrial chain disconnection, and aggravation of the supply chain crisis will only bring serious consequences to the world, and the United States is no exception. The United States should know its mistakes and correct them, not make mistakes again and again."

  [Global Times correspondent in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, Yue Linwei, Zhang Jing, Xinbin, Global Times reporter Xie Jun]

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