The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) established in 1989 is a regional economic forum with more than 20 members working for the prosperity of the people of the region through regional economic integration. It focuses on the easy commuting of community & commodities across borders. USA & China are key players of APEC. Their annual bilateral trade is approx 760 billion & two way investments are approx 260 billion USD. 284 cities in USA have sister city agreements with Chinese cities. 300 direct flights operate weekly between the two countries (Ref. Chinese stats). With the launch of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI – China’s international trade net) US seems more interested in the Indo Pacific which is a far larger geographical area. China has enjoyed good trading & mutual respect in Asia for the last 1000 years. Hence, China coming to Asia with the BRI is not new to China & the Asian cultures. Since USA, Canada, Australia etc. weren’t in existence in the Pacific region prior to the 1500s AD, APEC experience is comparatively new to all. Since the new civilizations are culturally distanced than the Asians it may have been more challenging. Still above stats prove that China & USA can always overcome the challenges. US forces fighting to defend China from invaders & the sacrifices of Chinese peasants defending American forces in the struggles dating back to 1937 (prior to WWII) have also helped strengthen China US relations. One memorable instance was when approx 250,000 Chinese were killed by the Japanese army when the Chinese were protecting 16 US pilots soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl harbour (Ref Chinese history). The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is also a platform both China & USA are keen on. China worked with most ASEAN members when they were financially in need in the mid 1990s. That resulted in the launch of the 21 st century focused “Good Neighborliness” policy. This approach is good for SL to study to survive in the so called ‘Indo – Pacific’. What’s in it for Sri Lanka? SL is struggling to restructure its economy to be strong & resilient. The population who is used to extreme welfare is beginning to realize the need to pay the real cost of goods & services consumed. Import Export trade will play a key role in this attempt. Historically SL traded with China, Persia, Arabia & India. During colonization it changed & in the new world order there are new actors. USA with its military base in Mauritius & emerging power India are notable. India is developing while gradually distancing itself from the welfare state. Sri Lankans should learn from China US bond when questioned about China SL bond & be cautious of those who talk about change without ground realistic solutions. Idea of working with the private sector to help state enterprises make profit is one example. It sounds similar to the ‘human face’ given to the open economy in the mid 1990s. It is wise to think of economic restructuring on the lines of economic cooperation explained by President Xi Jinping at the APEC conference in San Francisco. He recommended; Chinese President’s stand on saying ‘NO’ to any attempt to politicize, weaponize, or impose security implications on economic & trade issues are a message to all who genuinely value development. True development is development for all – Xi Jinping.

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