KUALA LUMPUR – Development and economic cooperation among countries have been the major achievements in the East Asia and will remain crucial for the future development in the region, a Malaysian expert has said.
Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow with S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies of Singapore Nanyang Technological University, said China, Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asian countries had been focusing on economic development in the past decades, which contributed to the peace and stability in the region.
Among the countries in the region, China has made significant contribution to the region by developing its economy, while promoting trade and investment with others.
“The deep economic ties will naturally improve overall relations between countries,” he said.
Foreign ministers and senior officials from Southeast Asia and major countries like United States, China, Russia, South Korea, Japan are meeting in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur this week, to discuss global and regional issues and ways to further promote ties.
Known as ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has become a leading platform to strengthen regional cooperation.
Oh, who was also the former political secretary to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, said the regional security regime based on “ASEAN centrality” was widely accepted by the countries in the region.
ASEAN, established in 1967, comprises 10 Southeast Asian countries including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The 10-nation bloc has inked dialogue partnership with major world players, in the form of ASEAN Plus One, ASEAN Plus Three, as well as East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum.
On the future development in East Asia, Oh said countries should continue to focus on growth and economic ties, without allowing the territorial disputes become the stumbling block for further development.
“Even on the security issues, there’s potential for cooperation including fighting piracy and smuggling, as well as search and rescue efforts,” Oh said, adding that such cooperation may enhance trust among countries.
Oh said China and other East Asian countries should deepen economic ties, expanding trade in goods and products to service and talents.
“Apart from trade and investment, exchange in culture and education should also be strengthened,” Oh said.
According to Oh, East Asia has become the power house for the world economy, as countries like China has managed to sustain growth against the backdrop of global weakness.
“When the world, especially Europe struggle to achieve growth, eyes are fix on East Asia, and we should set a great example,” Oh said.