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ASEAN, China Expected to Be Stabilizing Factor in Economic Wobble

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China can be stabilizing factors in times of a financial crisis, ministers attending a one-day conference on media cooperation said on Thursday.

"I am steadfast in my belief that ASEAN will be able to withstand the challenges (of the recent financial meltdown in the West), as we have grown more resilient, stronger and integrated than before," Malaysian information minister Dato' Ahmad Shabery Cheek said.

He said the ASEAN's "robust economies and strong fundamentals in its banking systems have enabled it to have relatively low impact" from the recent economic "tsunami" in the United States and the Western Europe.

"It is in these times (of the financial crisis) when ASEAN regionalism can be a stabilizing factor," he said.

He added the ASEAN should continue to work with China as the country has "become the engine of growth for this region" due to the strength of its economy.

"If we would recall, during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, China played a decisive role in helping its neighbors. By not devaluing its currency, China thus provided a stabilizing effect for its neighbors," he said, "Thank you once again, China."

"I am sure that this engine will continue to drive us in ASEAN and provide the much-needed resilience during turbulent times," he said.

Mohammad Nuh, Mohammad Indonesia's Minister of Communication and Information Technology, also said in an interview with Xinhua that cooperation between China and ASEAN is of crucial importance in the backdrop of the financial meltdown in the West.

Nuh said China's economy still boasts a steady growth despite the global financial crisis, and is witnessing a much faster growth rate compared with other major economies in the world.

"Cooperation between ASEAN and China will not only be beneficiary to the two parties, but also to the whole world," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency October 17, 2008)

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