China’s role will continue to have great importance in regional economic cooperation and integration, the head of a multilateral group said on Tuesday in Manila.
Lee Jong-heon, secretarygeneral of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat, said he is impressed by China’s initiatives to advance the construction of an East Asia economic community.
Lee attended meetings of the 20th ASEAN Plus Three Summit earlier in the day. His organization was established in 2011 to promote peace and common prosperity among China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
China’s initiatives are important and helpful in deepening and broadening cooperation in the region as well as pushing forward the establishment of the economic community, he said.
Lee predicted the ASEAN Plus Three will become one of the most successful and institutionalized regional cooperation mechanisms.
“China will turn out to be very, very successful in preventing another financial crisis in the region and boosting regional cooperation and integration,” he said.
After the financial crisis struck Asia in the 1990s, many regional countries suffered from austerity measures demanded by the International Monetary Fund, he said.
During the crisis, the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and their three dialogue partners — China, Japan and the ROK — found a way to help stabilize regional economies, Lee said, through the Chiang Mai Initiative and the Asian bond market.
The initiative is a multilateral currency swap agreement among ASEAN members and their partners that serves as a financial safety valve.
“China is very enthusiastic in implementing new financial cooperation mechanisms. ... Without this kind of financial safety net, we will always be worried about another possible crisis,” Lee said.
Lee said trilateral cooperation among China, Japan and the ROK will be important for broader regional cooperation and eventually globalization. He said that though globalization and regional cooperation are facing challenges in the wake of Brexit and rising protectionism, most countries in the world fully recognize their importance.
“It is very imperative for these three countries (China, Japan and the ROK) to make joint and determined efforts to keep the momentum for this open, regional cooperation.”
Lee said cooperation will be inevitable among the three countries given the geographical proximity, cultural similarity and necessity to cooperate with each other in nontraditional security areas. That is interconnected with the region through various mechanisms, he said.
China will turn out to be very, very successful in preventing another financial crisis in the region.”
Lee Jong-heon, secretary-general of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat