From the first link:
VIENTIANE, Nov. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- The 10-member ASEAN countries and Japan have pledged to promote comprehensive relations during the related meetings of the ASEAN summit which will close later Tuesday.
ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and Japan agreedthat ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Parternship (CEP) Agreement negotiation should start in April 2005, according to the10th ASEAN Summit Chairman's statement released Tuesday.
The 8th ASEAN plus Japan summit was held here Tuesday as a related meeting of the two-day ASEAN summit to end Tuesday evening.
The statement said that the two sides are expected to conclude the negotiations within two years from that day.
An ASEAN Summit spokesman said at a daily briefing Tuesday thatthe drafted timetable for building an ASEAN-Japan free trade area is about 10 years and tariffs between the two sides will be reduced to zero from 5 percent during that period.
Taking into account the current high oil price, ASEAN supports energy cooperation with Japan, in particular in alternative energy,such as bio-fuels, and hydroelectirc power and energy security.
ASEAN leaders encouraged Japan to increase direct investment inCambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, such as through the construction of hydroelectric power plants and relocating environmentally friendly industries in these three countries in sectors where they enjoyed comparative advantage.
Japan's accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia in July 2004 is regarded as an important milestone in the ASEAN-Japan relations.
ASEAN and Japan also decided to promote human resources exchanges as well as social and cultural cooperation.
Japan welcomed the decision reached by ASEAN leaders to convenethe first East Asia Summit (EAS) in Malaysia in 2005.
The ASEAN leaders also supported Japan's proposal to host an ASEAN plus three (Japan, China, the Republic of Korea) foreign ministers meeting in Kyoto in May, 2005 to discuss the concept andmdodalities of an EAS.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
It looks like the "Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere" is coming into being, albeit without bloodshed.
This is yet another thing that doesn't bode well for the USA. From the 2nd link:
The moves are likely to boost China's political and economic interests in an area where its relations have been strained by territorial disputes and lingering war animosities.
That could reduce U.S. clout among Southeast Asian nations that are key military allies and large markets for U.S. farm goods, machinery and Hollywood films.
"This is a wake-up call," said Myron Brilliant, senior vice president of Asia policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "China is becoming more aggressive in its outreach to its neighbors, and we don't want to be left behind."
The free trade pact would lead to the elimination of tariffs by China and ASEAN on thousands of products by 2015.
China's "charm offensive" — which includes the development of bilateral trade pacts, increased investment in energy and raw materials producers, and expanded tourism and educational exchanges — has strengthened its standing as a regional leader at a time when U.S. policymakers have been distracted by the war in Iraq and terrorism, analysts said.
"By any aggregate measure, the United States is still the great power of Asia," said Kurt Campbell, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington. "But if you go behind the scene in boardrooms, military councils and diplomatic settings, you find that China's might and influence has grown almost exponentially in the last several years."
What the US could do about though, is hard to imagine.
Good thing, uh, we "reelected" George W. Bush, right?
Meanwhile, the ">dollar's headed even lower:
The dollar hit its new low against the euro, breaking the previous record of $1.3329 set Friday, shortly after European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet renewed his assertion that the euro's rapid rise against the U.S. currency is "unwelcome." The dollar also slipped against the Japanese yen Tuesday, falling to 102.54 yen from 102.88 yen on Monday.
This is of course due to our twin deficits- the budget deficit and the trade deficit. But it doesn't really matter at all, says Thomas Sowell (who doesn't understand economics, it seems)!
The number of falsehoods and halftruths from Sowell is amazing. Did it ever occur to him why the rest of the world isn't buying this BS?