ASEAN ministerial meeting inaugurated
MANILA: The “rise of China and India – the two most populated countries in the world – as global economic powerhouses has opened a lot of opportunities and challenges for all the countries in the [East Asian] region.”
This was a theme that Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo emphasised, inaugurating the 40th ministerial meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Manila on Monday. The meeting will be followed, in the next few days, by a series of annual sessions of dialogue between the ASEAN and its key dialogue partners, including India, China, the United States, and Japan. India will be represented by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
The simultaneous “rise of China and India” formed the new political backdrop for the ASEAN ministerial meeting. No collective ASEAN plan of action to capitalise on the “opportunities,” sparked by the rise of India and China, was outlined. Both will later participate in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) later in the week.
Ms. Arroyo said, “The rise of China and of India as major economic powers provide us with fresh competition as well as cooperation. If we are to turn this century into an Asian century, we must be able to capitalise on [these] opportunities and strengths of Asia. [ASEAN] must allow other countries that have substantial stake in the region to participate in its development.” It was in this context that India had been “included in the concept of a larger East Asia,” she said.