Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat Calls on ASEAN and China to Explore Building Blocks of Growth in the ‘Never Normal’



Linette Lai | The Straits Times

Asean and China can benefit from exploring new “building blocks” of growth in areas such as digitalisation and sustainability, in addition to deepening cooperation in existing areas such as trade, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday (July 12).

With sound economic fundamentals and a total combined population of two billion people, there is large potential for catch-up growth, he added.

But even as it ramps up collaboration with China, Asean must stay united and keep engaging all major partners, Mr Heng said. This is especially the case when South-east Asian countries get caught up in the intensifying strategic competition between the United States and China.

He was speaking on the first day of the two-day FutureChina Global Forum at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre at Marina Bay Sands. The forum brings together government and business leaders on a range of China-related issues.

Mr Heng also took part in a panel discussion on Asean and China, at which academics and bank representatives shared their thoughts on China’s growing role in the international arena and how US-China relations will be shaped by these developments.

This year’s theme of economic cooperation in the “never normal” is apt, given the uncertainty and swift changes – such as digitalisation and climate change – taking place in the world, Mr Heng noted. “We cannot predict the future, but we can, and must, seek to create a better future,” he added.

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