ASEAN launch RCEP China, SKorea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand

Asian leaders on Tusaday launched of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was made by leaders from ten ASEAN nations and its six dialog partners, namely China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand, easing the bloc's reliance on the struggling West.

The proposal for the new trade bloc, to be known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, is enthusiastically embraced by China. The founding members, who belong to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said at the close of the association’s summit meeting here that the bloc would cover nearly half of the world’s population, starting in 2015.

Competing visions for an Asia-Pacific trade bloc reflect the struggle for dominance by economic powers over a region that is increasingly a driver of global growth. U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking to expand trade ties with Asian nations and regain economic influence among countries that are growing more reliant on China in an area that contains sea lanes vital to world commerce.

"As the international financial crisis continues and trade and investment protectionism start to grow, regional economic integration has become the common choice of many countries," China 's Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said on Saturday in Beijing.