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(Left to right) Asian Business Conference leaders Derek Yan, Choon-Peng Ng, Shilpak Mahadkar and Sridhar Varadarajan
  (Left to right) Derek Yan,
Choon-Peng Ng, Shilpak Mahadkar
and Sridhar Varadarajan at the
Asian Business Conference

Experts Explain Warming of Sino-U.S. Relations Following 9-11

2/18/2004 --

14th Annual Asian Business Conference attracts more than 500.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---China, not long ago considered a threat to America¿s national security, has emerged as a strategic U.S. partner and the driving force behind collaborative efforts to build a stable Southeast Asia, noted two keynote speakers at the University of Michigan Business School¿s 14th Annual Asian Business Conference (ABC).

Kishore Mahbubani, Singapore ambassador to the United States, attributed the warming in Sino-U.S. relations to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Following 9-11, America¿s political leaders shifted their focus to terrorism, Al Qaeda and Afghanistan, noted Mahbubani, one of 27 international business and government leaders who participated in the two-day conference held at the Business School in February.

Although China opposed in principle the U.S. invasion of Iraq, unlike France, Germany and Russia, China has not tried to make the United States¿ life more difficult publicly or in the United Nations¿ Security Council, the ambassador said.

¿China realizes the moment has arrived when it has to develop,¿ explained Mahbubani. China has gone through the trauma of being a Communist state; it wants stability. China¿s desire to develop economically has been a boon for Southeast Asia, which also has benefited from Japan¿s and India¿s wish to compete in the region, he added. Ong Keng Yong, secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that although the nations that comprise ASEAN¿Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam¿are diverse in size and economic might, they feed on the strengths of each other.

ASEAN embraces free trade and is harmonizing trade rules to create a single market. ¿There is a political will to come together to compete more effectively with Japan and China,¿ Ong said. ASEAN also doesn¿t want to unwittingly pull away from other major trading partners¿the European Union, Russia and the United States. ¿The goal is to make sure Southeast Asia remains open to all,¿ Ong added.

Mahbubani is upbeat about the prospects of combining Asian and American strengths in what he called a new Pacific community. ¿Potentially, if this fusion works, we¿ll see levels of creativity we¿ve never seen before. If we want to see the future of this region, look in this room,¿ he said, referring to the diverse cross-section of Business School students who organized and participated in the conference. The ABC attracts more than 500 students and business leaders annually, making it the school¿s largest and longest-running student-organized conference.

For more information, contact:
Mary Jo Frank
Phone: 734-647-4626