Regionwide Security Framework Needed For Asia: Conference

May 23, 2008

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Asia needs to establish a regionwide security framework to tackle natural disasters as well as energy and food crises, East Asian policy experts agreed at a Friday session held as part of the Nikkei Inc. Future of Asia conference.

"Conditions could have been different if Asia had the capability to offer immediate measures, such as relief flights, under a set of predetermined rules " said Hitoshi Tanaka, senior fellow at the Japan Center for International Exchange, referring to the recent major earthquake in China.

He argued that a regionwide security structure would be a way for Asian nations to pursue coordinated actions.

Tanaka also spoke in favor of creating an economic framework.

"We need an organization similar to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that would tackle a broad range of issues such as macroeconomics and energy issues," he said.

Alexander Arvizu, deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, noted how the separation between national security and energy and food supply issues is waning. Therefore, security mechanisms can create a foundation of cooperation for a variety of areas, he said.

Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador Extraordinary Cui Tiankai expressed interest in building a broader cooperation based on existing frameworks. He expressed his gratitude for the aid provided by different nations in response to the recent quake. Cui noted how China's ties with Association of Southeast Asian Nations members and other countries had taken a large step forward as a result of progress in the establishment of regional cooperative mechanisms.

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