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Asean-China: It's Compete Not Conflict, Says PM
Leslean Arshad

TOKYO, 24 May (Bernama) - Asean, despite realising that China has
attracted a lot of investment, will not resort to conflict with that
country but rather gear itself for competition to draw a fair share of
investment, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said today.

Stressing that conflict is not a strategy for any country which wants to
do well economically, he said: "China is China. China must go on. China
has its role to play.

"Conflict is wrong, conflict is not sought after. If you have conflict you
will suffer. Competition fine... it's ok... it's normal."

Abdullah said while Asean including Malaysia is well aware that a lot of
investment has gone to China this did not mean investors have refrained
from coming to Southeast Asia.

"There are investors still coming, even China invests in Malaysia. We have
products to sell in China," he said in an interview with media partners of
the 13th Nikkei International Conference here where he had earlier
delivered a keynote address.

The media partners are The Straits Times (Singapore), Kompas (Indonesia),
New Straits Times (Malaysia), Bangkok Post (Thailand), Vietnam News
Agency, People's Daily (China), JoongAng Ilbo (South Korea), Maeil
Business Newspaper (South Korea) and CNBC Asia Pacific.

He said there is "nothing wrong" with competition even among brothers and
sisters because they still maintain the family ties with mutual respect.

"If there is a need to cooperate, we cooperate. If we need to compete, we
compete but we don't fight, we don't resort to fighting, we don't create
conflict," he stressed.

Abdullah pointed out that the wealth and growth of China also contributes
to the growth of Asean, only that the degree of growth varies between the
member countries.

"Everybody has benefited in many ways," he added.

Abdullah said Malaysia looks forward to greater cooperation being
established with China in the oil and gas sector. Petronas has good
cooperative relations with China's large corporations.

On a single Asian currency that has long been mooted, Abdullah said at the
moment the initiative is "not going fast enough." However, the idea is not
something which has been discarded or "not going to be taken up."

He said its snail's pace progress could be due to other priorities that
member countries need to consider first, and dismissed suggestions that
"nationalism" - each country wanting to maintain its own currency - is a

There are other areas of cooperation that member countries could look
into, such as trade arrangements and the proposed East Asia Free Trade
Agreement which are deemed to be more practical now instead of pushing for
a single currency, he added.

Asked whether the Asian currency will materialise, the Prime Minister
said: "Well, it's tough but I'm sure they are still working on that."

On the erratic United States economic climate, Abdullah said Asean could
feel "some impact" if there is an economic slowdown in the US but he
believes the region could withstand this although the US is a major
trading partner to many countries in Asean.

He suggested that to help ease any adverse effect, Asean could focus more
on other expanding markets and dynamic economies such as China, India and
the Middle East.

"It's a matter of how we manage our economies," he added.


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