Asian nations, especially the Asean should focus on collaborating with China and avoid militarisation in order to reap the benefits of mutual respect and development.
For in depth analysis of Cambodian Business, visit Capital Cambodia
Speaking at the China Conference in Kuala Lumpur last week, Noeleen Heyzer, former United Nations under-secretary general said it is essential for China’s neighboring countries and especially those who will look upon China for official development assistance, to have meaningful collaboration.
“Asia can benefit from shared prosperity and development without getting into military confrontation and or trade disputes. Respect for each other will ensure equal opportunities and the benefits of such collaborations are enormous,” Ms Heyzer said.
The two-day conference, organized by South China Morning Post focused on China and how her relations with Asian countries would impact trade and development.
In addition, the looming and intensifying China-United States trade war was another contentious point for speakers and conference participants.
The executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group Joe Tsai said the ongoing trade dispute was dangerously close to the beginning of a cold war or a geopolitical war in which nations may be forced to take sides.
“Whether they side with China or the United States, this fear is unfounded as globalization and free trade has enhanced connectivity and integration. There will be no winners in a trade war,” Tsai said.
He questioned whether the motives of the United States in imposing unrealistic tariffs on Chinese goods was in fact an attempt to balance the trade deficit with China in which there is a reported $335 deficit.
Echoing this was former chief executive of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying who said the United States should not have imposed tariffs on Chinese made goods as the United States herself was not capable of producing all of its needs.
“Thus enter China whose products are at times more competitive. Maybe, there are other underlying issues which could be behind the real motives of the United States in embarking on this trade war such as geo political footprints,” Leung stressed.
In a panel discussion, Francis Yeoh, the executive chairman of the YTL Group, said the Belt and Road Initiative by China needs to have more transparency and should stand up to public scrutiny.
“It would be to China’s benefit if it could add clarity to its initiative as the current perception that the initiative is for political and economic domination it is not good. However, if there is full transparency on projects and responsibility, there should be no reason for any country to abstain from partaking on any of these projects.
Mr Yeoh pointed out that the Belt and Road initiative focused mainly on infrastructure and that these projects brought immense economic benefits such as job creation and development which many countries can ill afford to undertake in their own.
Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has pledged that unlike some Asean countries, Cambodia will not cancel any bilateral infrastructure projects undertaken by China.