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China, India 'Developing' Into Powerhouses: Ex-Singapore Leader

May 25, 2006

TOKYO (Nikkei)--As China and India loom ever larger over the global landscape, these teeming countries are beginning to believe they will catch up with the United States and Europe, Singaporean Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said Thursday at a symposium.

Speaking at a dialogue session during The Future of Asia conference, sponsored by Nihon Keizai Shimbun Inc., the former prime minister stressed that the time may be drawing near when the two are no longer referred to as developing nations.

The global free trade framework must include China and India, Lee argued, opposing the view that they pose a threat.

Shi Guangsheng, chairman of the China Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment, said in a speech that China, Japan and South Korea -- the countries with outstanding trading volumes -- should play a leading role in forming a regional trading bloc. He added that the bloc should be expanded later to include South and West Asian nations with an eye toward building the East Asia Community.

In a separate session, Isher Judge Ahluwalia, chairperson of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, said India is rushing to improve its infrastructure by creating a special task committee within the government. Ahluwalia stressed that private-sector companies can now bid for airport projects, showing strong expectations for higher Japanese investment.

Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla's speech wrapped up the first-day program. He expressed fear that cheap Chinese goods that have flooded Asia may snatch market shares from other countries' products.

Titles of speakers, names of companies, etc., were correct as of the time when the forum was held.