[VIEWPOINT]Asia depends on Korea, ChinaA few weeks ago it was reported through both international and local media that the hosting country for the 2010 World Expo was decided as Shanghai instead of Yeosu. While many Koreans expressed disappointment, many expres-sed concerns that Korea may fall behind China after 2010 economically, especially after seeing that China successfully won the 2010 Expo bid after winning the right to hold the Olympics. However, if we were to look at this from a global perspective we should not be disappointed. We should be looking at China not as a competitor but as a partner.
It goes without saying that China is close to Korea not only geographically, but also politically, economically and culturally. Following China's liberalization, Koreans have two perspectives. First, Koreans view China as a competitor in the global market place. Second, China is viewed as a huge market with enormous opportunities and challenges.
From China's perspective, inevitably their competitors are the United Sates and the European Union. If China and Korea were to compete for the same market, from the global economy perspective it would not be beneficial to either country. Also if China were to make Korea its partner either politically or economically, it would elevate its status in the global market while influencing the global order.
Above anyone else, China's decision makers are most aware of the fact that Korea is the best partner for them. The fact is that Korea is not only very close to China in many aspects such as culturally, historically and geographically, but also Korea does not pose any threat to China, which strategically positions Korea as an ideal partner.
Would it be wrong to think that the Chinese economic leaders are hoping for Korean companies to succeed in China rather than American, Japanese or companies from the European Union? Rationally, I think it's safe to say that there would not be many Chinese who want companies from strong nations such as the United States or the European Union to grow stronger in China. However, they may want a country like Korea, which does not pose much threat, to succeed, which may fit their global strategy.
Under these conditions, Korea needs to look at its relationship with China in a more global perspective, because China can be a strategic partner who can raise Korea's stature in the world while assisting in Korea's economic development in today's competitive world market.
In order to become a strategic partner and increase its level of knowledge of China, there is a greater need for Korea to conduct further research and invest in China. Korea must also cultivate and strengthen China specialists. Korea's current education and investment are tailored towards the West. With long-term perspectives Korea must develop China specialists, which will inevitably benefit Korea's long-term strategy.
Also Korean companies that are already operating in China must help those other companies that have not established their presence in China yet. It is especially important for the chaebol, who are very familiar with China, to assist medium-size Korean companies that are having difficulties in entering China. Korean chaebol helping Korean medium and small size companies by giving them access to their networks and providing them assistance will raise the competitiveness of Korea. Korean companies must also form strong alliances and communities in the Chinese market to have their voices heard. The Korean government must also show greater efforts in order to achieve this goal. Along with the economic aspects, cooperation with China in cultural and education aspects will further bring the two nations closer together.
If the two nations come together to increase competitiveness and to survive in the 21st century they will build the most ideal partnership between the two nations. Asia in the global marketplace essentially depends on how well Korea and China understand and cooperate with each other.
* The writer is the CEO of Daimler-Chrysler in Korea.
by Michel Campeanu