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China -- Friend Or Foe?


Kantathi Suphamongkhon, Former Foreign Minister, Kingdom of Thailand

BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- It’s too big to ignore, but should we feel intimidated by China’s growing economic and military power?

“It’s not a mistake to look at China as a potential threat, but I think the policy should be geared toward moving China in the direction of partnership,” says Kanathi Suphamongkhon, former Foreign Minister of Thailand, currently serving as a visiting professor at UCLA and presenting at the World Affairs Council of Las Vegas on Wednesday.

A better relationship with China begins with old school face-to-face diplomacy, says Suphamongkhon.

“The best example is what happened in Palm Springs just a few days ago,” he says. “I was so happy to see President Obama meet with the Chinese president without a tie, in a very warm setting.”

Another breakthrough in U.S. – China relations took place when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to Asia on her first trip overseas.

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“It’s a break from the past,” says Suphamongkhon. “Usually the Secretary of State would only go to Europe.”

He adds that acting in unison is especially important as the two countries devise a strategy for dealing with North Korea.

“I think China and the U.S. have been coordinating quite well in sending a more unified message to North Korea,” says Suphamongkhon. “North Korea is actually a very insecure country and it feels that it needs to be recognized as an equal.”

This, he says, is why North Korea favors bilateral negotiations with the U.S. over six-party talks.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013