THE Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China should work toward a “win-win solution” to preserve trade relations despite the dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the head of the region’s business council said on Thursday.
Asean Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Chairman Joey Concepcion said the move of President Rodrigo Duterte toward a partnership with Beijing was the right step, considering that China is a strong nation.
“It is to our benefit that we find a win-win solution to the issues on what is happening with the building of these establishments in the reefs,” Concepcion said in an ABAC forum, referring to the building of artificial islands by China in the area.
Concepcion expressed optimism that as Asean relationships develop, there would be a solution that he dubbed the “Asean way.”
The country doesn’t have the military power to challenge big countries and such move would be like committing suicide, he said.
But the Philippines has the “power” to develop a relationship with its neighboring countries because of the friendly and hospitable traits of Filipinos.
Concepcion noted that countries in Southeast Asia share a similar character, which is why the region would continue to prosper. With China in the picture, Asean could benefit from the resources it could provide.
Asean countries could also benefit from tourism and financial and technological resources, he said.
China on the other hand could benefit on the amount of exports from Asean.
“So the relationship between Asean and China is very important and both sides have to really work hard towards achieving that win-win relationship,” said Conception in a news briefing.
The ABAC is hosting the “Prosperity For All Summit,” pooling together state leaders, public sector representatives, business leaders and advocates of micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs (MSME) in the Asean region.
Prime Minister Dato Sri Najib Razak of Malaysia and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand are confirmed to attend and give keynote speeches before more than 1,000 delegates attending the business summit at the City of Dreams entertainment complex.
Vice President Leni Robredo will address the delegates and welcome them to the Philippine chairmanship of Asean’s 50th year. Also joining the summit as a panelist is Pampanga Rep. and former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.