Professor Cheng Siwei
THE 10-COUNTRY Asean grouping and its dialogue partners are being called upon to engage more meaningfully on the world stage amid the economic crisis that has hit most nations very badly.
The vast Asian continent, with Asean at its heart, is increasingly being seen as the only engine of growth in the wake of an apparently synchronised global economic recession and social stress, according to participants of last weekend’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.
Nik Gowing from the BBC World News TV channel asserted at a WEF session that if there were no effective solution to the current crisis, there could be a destructive social backlash that would provoke political instability in countries while reviving protectionism and reversing the trend towards globalisation.
Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, one of Asean’s dialogue partners, shared the opinion that Asia – which accounts for 40 per cent of the world population – had the greatest potential.
To help jump-start the regional economy that has been battered by the US-induced global financial crisis, in Davos, Japan announced its US$17-billion (Bt595 billion) development package for Asian countries to invest in infrastructure and other mega-projects to boost economic growth.
Moreover, Yasuo Hayashi, chairman and CEO of the Japan External Trade Organisation, suggested that the Big Three – Japan, China and India, all key partners of Asean – quickly conclude economic partnership agreements with other Asean members for long-term peace and prosperity.
It is imperative to expedite all motions since economic integration, though greatly beneficial, can be a time-consuming process, the Japanese official said.
Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, also expressed support for the continuation of trade and investment liberalisation policies, while Cheng Siwei, dean of the Management University in Beijing, called for mutual-trust building and acceleration of the free-trade zone involving Asean and its partners.
Currently, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand are Asean partners.
Cheng Siwei – The Americans are over spending and the Chinese are over saving, so we need compromise.
Business Weekly this week takes a look at the China and the USA in this financial crisis-hit world. Are Chinese people behaving like Americans and Americans behaving like Chinese? Are the saving and spending roles being reversed? And would that make us all better off? It would, according to one of the top Chinese economic thinkers, Cheng Siwei.
Cheng Siwei, President, China Association for Soft Science Studies, People’s Republic of China on the ‘breakthrough idea’ of the Global Agenda Council on the Future of China at the Summit on the Global Agenda held in Dubai 7-9 November 2008.