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THE NATION: Minister sees Chin


      Minister sees China as
      aforce for peace, stability

      The Nation 

      THAILAND yesterday dismissed fears that
      China's influence in Burma and Cambodia
      would be ''divisive'' for the region. 

      ''I do not share these concerns,'' Deputy
      Foreign Minister M R Sukhumbhand
      Paripatra told participants of the sixth
      Southeast Asia-China Dialogue. 

      He said China would continue to be a force
      for peace and stability in Southeast Asia. 

      Some have expressed concern that China
      has become too closely aligned with Burma
      and Cambodia and that ''these alignments
      would be divisive for the region. Military
      cooperation with the former is often cited
      as a concrete source of apprehension'', he

      Three dozen academics representing
      strategic and security think-tanks from
      China and Asean members meet to
      discuss economic and political issues
      related to Asean and China and their future

      Sukhumbhand said China understood that
      its strategic interests were best served not
      by undertaking geopolitical manoeuvres
      which could only bring short-term benefits
      but by promoting peace, stability and
      goodwill on its periphery in the longer term. 

      The minister also expressed confidence
      that China had the requisite political will
      and sense of enlightened self-interest to
      resolve the two outstanding issues --
      Taiwan and the South China Sea --
      involving itself directly in a peaceful manner.

      China, he said, has played an exemplary
      role in the Asian financial crisis, constantly
      demonstrating readiness to share
      responsibility in coping with the situation. 

      Apart from contributing financial assistance
      to the IMF rescue package for Thailand,
      China said it would not devalue its currency
      and was willing to increase trade with and
      investment in Asean countries. 

      The Nation