'Big brother' can bring stability and security to Asia, says Ramos

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 April, 2004, 12:00am

China can become Asia's guarantor of peace and prosperity if it adheres to a strategy of 'peaceful ascendancy', former Philippine president Fidel Ramos says.

Mr Ramos told the Asia Leadership Forum in Hong Kong yesterday that Asian countries should not fear Beijing's increasing influence in the region.

The former president said the central government's policy of pursuing superpower status peacefully was sincere and credible.

'I see China as a true and sincere partner to the Asean coun-tries. At the Boao forum in Hainan recently, President Hu Jintao sent us a clear message that China wants to work together with us to ensure the region's stability and prosperity,' Mr Ramos said.

'Under the guarantee of the 'big brother' China, Asia's political stability and security are ensured.'

Mr Ramos said Southeast Asian countries had to accept the mainland's rise to supremacy and learn to live with it. 'We don't want to be wiped out by the rise of China. There is no way but to put up with the superpowers, which now includes China,' he said.

He also predicted that America's influence in Asia would gradually diminish. He said a united Asia - which included the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Japan and Korea - would become the new political and economic force in the region.

'It is predictable that the powerful military presence of the US will continue to be felt in Asia, but this is not going to be sustainable given its engagement in other parts of the world.'

China Development Institute president Li Luoli, who also attended the forum, agreed with Mr Ramos and said a powerful China had not historically been a threat to the region.

'To put it correctly, it is not the rise of China. It is the re-emergence. China was the most powerful, most advanced and most economically vibrant power in the world for a long period of time in history. We just fell behind in the last 300 years,' he said.

'During China's long period of dominance, it has never been an aggressive force. From the Zhou dynasty to the Qing dynasty, our territory did not change much.'