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China not a threat
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Scholars from the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said on Thursday that China was not a threat to its 10-member countries and appreciated China's foreign and defense policies.

"China threat is not really a hard, physical, reality-based assessment," said Bernard Loo, Nanyang Technological University assistant professor, at a dialogue between senior defense scholars from China and ASEAN countries that opened in Beijing on Wednesday.

"China has been much involved in the world economy and world globalization. If there would be a war, the process will be jeopardized. In that respect, I don't really think China is a threat to the region," said the Singaporean.

He said China's diplomacy had been a success, and the country was now prepared to deal with ASEAN as a whole, and continued to deal with individual countries on a bilateral basis.

Loo noted China ranked first in a survey in terms of trustworthiness in southeast Asia. The country was becoming more confident and more countries felt more comfortable in dealing with it.

"My country does not worry about a rising China," said Vanna Ros, a scholar with the Policy and Planning Department of the Cambodian Ministry of National Defense.

He said it was China's obligation to modernize and defend the country. As China was becoming more important in the region, it should shoulder more responsibility to safeguard the region's security.

Colonel Sofian, a Malaysian Armed Forces Defense College researcher, agreed China's defense budget growth was justifiable.

"Why not? When we go to non-traditional security issues, for example, natural disasters, we need modern equipment like good communication sets, and weapons in rescue operation, such as search and rescue aircraft. We cannot run away from one another's issues," he said.

Sofian said China and ASEAN had conducted "very quantitative" exchanges in recent years. There was a very good and positive approach to enhance mutual cooperation and trust.

The three-day dialogue was launched to implement the consensus reached at the 11th China-ASEAN leaders' meeting proposed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Over 20 scholars participated in the talks that focused on military modernization and regional confidence building.

(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2008)

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