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Asean celebrates its 41st anniversary in Seoul

Aug 13,2008
Korea and Japan and host China all got off to a solid start at the Beijing Summer Olympics.

At an international sporting event of such magnitude, good performances by athletes from any of the three countries becomes a source of pride for many people in each of the East Asian neighbors.

The nations may cheer for one another in the Olympics, but in fact it could be a temporary respite in their chronic political struggle.

Putting aside the question of who is more to blame for their assorted tensions, the political struggle among Korea, China and Japan does not look constructive compared with the efforts by their neighbors in Southeast Asia.

The 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, have worked closely with each other over the past 41 years, molding their regional unity into an emerging supranational community.

Last Friday, diplomats in Korea from the Asean countries gathered to celebrate the 41st anniversary of the foundation of Asean at the residence of Laotian Ambassador Soukthavone Keola, in Hannam, central Seoul.

“Since its establishment on Aug. 8, 1967, Asean has achieved remarkable progress in political, economic and social-cultural fields,” said Ambassador Keola in a speech during the event.

“Asean has now become a vibrant community of 10 nations comprising one of the fastest growing regional groups in the world.”

The rapid growth of Asean is confirmed by solid numbers.

The size of trade among its member countries rose from $10 billion in 1967 to $1.2 trillion last year.

Economic exchange within Asean is expected to grow as the member countries aim to combine the 10 economies into one by 2015.

Keola said that despite income gaps and cultural differences among members, Asean has succesfully brought the countries together. The same efforts for unity, he said, could be made by Korea, Japan and China in a way that benefits them not only mutually, but globally.

“Korea, China and Japan are highly developed countries, and if you can cooperate among three countries, it will be good for Asean, for Asia, for peace,” he said.


By Moon Gwang-lip Staff Reporter [joe@joongang.co.kr]


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