Singapore’s Prime Minister Calls for Greater Unity of ASEAN with China and India

The Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien-Loong on Friday called for greater integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to be at the height of the “growing importance of China and India”.

“If the ASEAN countries are not able to walk together, we can not continue to follow the momentum of China and India,” stressed the Singaporean representative in Jakarta at the opening of the XX World Economic Forum (WEF) East Asia.

ASEAN, which aims to create a common market in 2015, consists of Burma (Myanmar), Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The leader of the city-state, one of the major financial centers worldwide, added that he would welcome a sudden surge in China’s currency, however, noted that a “gradual appreciation” of the yuan would encourage China and its economy.

In his view, the process should lead to a correction in the value of currencies, which translates into more strength in the emerging world currencies.

The conference, with the theme “Responding to the new globalization”, also referred to popular uprisings in the Arab world, described as an “impatient idealism” of the young by the WEF Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab.

Addressing more than 500 businessmen and government representatives, the head of the Singaporean government said that one of the biggest challenges is “the integration of youth in this new world.”

He said the leaders have an obligation to teach young people “to achieve their aspirations, but warned that not everything can be achieved here and now.”

The WEF, a nonprofit foundation based in Geneva, held every year a dozen regional assemblies, while its annual meeting takes place in Davos (Switzerland).