China 'is already a superpower'

China 'is already a superpower'

CHINA does not get enough credit for what it has achieved and the superpower role it already plays in the world, said Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam.

Speaking at The Straits Times Global Outlook Forum last Friday, he noted that the reality of a China-dominated region is "already here".

It is either the biggest or second-biggest trading partner and investor for almost all the countries in South-east Asia, he said. Its influence over the less developed countries in the region is even greater: Of Cambodia's US$14 billion (S$17.6billion) gross domestic product (GDP), for example, Chinese loans amount to some US$8 billion or US$9 billion, he said.

"Commercially, all of us now owe our prosperity to some degree to China," he pointed out.

Responding to a point by dialogue moderator, ST editor Warren Fernandez, that China's economic growth from now on is not so assured, Mr Shanmugam said: "It's all relative, isn't it?"

"I think most countries in the world will be happy with 7.6 per cent or 7.4 per cent growth," the minister said, referring to China's GDP growth of the last two quarters.

He said he found descriptions of China's "slowdown" to be hyperbolic: "The reality is people don't give China enough credit. You get a chap who is arrested, he ends up on the first page of the international newspapers, but the fact that 500million people have been moved out of poverty, the fact that the Third Plenum now has come out with what could potentially be very significant restructuring (do not)."

Last year, Beijing removed Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai from his post and this year tried him for taking bribes, embezzlement and abuse of power for covering up his wife's murder of a British businessman, in a case that captured headlines worldwide.

The Third Plenum was a key meeting among Chinese political leaders last month that set the reform agenda for the next decade. Among the changes are the loosening of China's one-child policy and ending the use of labour camps.

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