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JPI PeaceTalk
Subject JPI PeaceTalk with Mr. Ravi VELLOOR, Associate Editor, Global Affairs at the Straits Times
Author JPI  (admin)
File
  2222222.jpg  (27KByte)
2018-12-27 오후 2:11:21


 

 

 

Q1. Could you briefly introduce yourself to JejuTube viewers?

 

Hello, I'm Ravi Velloor, and I'm the Associate Editor of The Straits Times in Singapore. We're an old newspaper, we've been publishing from 1845, and we have one of the largest network of bureaus across Asia. We cover Asia entirely, and I'm an associate editor and I'm a columnist on global affairs for the paper. And before this I was foreign editor of this newspaper. And I'm a person who comes to Korea about three to four times a year, so it's a great pleasure to be back in Korea and in Jeju particularly.

 

Q2. The Southeast Asian region has made progress on faster cross-border transactions. Currently, five ASEAN countries - Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - have linked to the ASEAN Single Window, an online platform for faster customs clearance through electronic exchange of trade documents. Southeast Asia’s expanding digital economy in areas such as online retail and ride-hailing services is pushing the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to harmonize their policies and rules. What are your suggestions to facilitate South Korea’s participation in the ASEAN digital economy?

 

Well, I think it's an idea whose time has come. It's very important because otherwise trade between ASEAN and South Korea has actually been a triple stagnant compared with what it could be. And if you need, you want to reach the target of two hundreds billion dollars trade by 2020, then I think you have to go on the digital route as a part of your strategy. You know the e-commerce route and a very big component of that is logistics. I said in my forum a little while back that the reason the Amazon and the Alibaba setting up huge warehouse facilities in Southeast Asia is because they are aware that the e-commerce thing does not have a life of its own without the logistics part of it. And I think Korea has to focus on that as well and get that right.

 

The other thing you should consider is it's not just a digital space but also the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the automation and the robotization that come with it. And I think you have a great opportunity to produce closer to your market in very high-end manufacturing place like Singapore for instance, where your intellectual property is protected and yet was very close to the big markets of Indonesia and India. And I think you have to move on several tracks at the same time and it's perfectly within your ability to do it. 

 

Q3. Last year, President Moon Jae-in announced the New Southern Policy. Under this policy direction, Korea is looking beyond Northeast Asia to deepen bonds of cooperation with ASEAN and beyond. By forging a mutually beneficial partnership, the policy’s ultimate goal is to contribute to an even better quality of life for the peoples of both ASEAN and Korea - and in so doing fostering a peaceful community of prosperity. What are your suggestions to increase Korea-ASEAN political, economic and socio-cultural cooperation in the future, which will constitute key parts of South Korea’s New Southern Policy?

 

Well, it's great comfort to hear about President Moon's New Southern Policy and I can speak for everybody in ASEAN that we hope that he puts flesh on the bones. We, some years ago, eight or nine years ago, we heard President Lee Myung-bak comes to Singapore and speaks about a new Asian Initiative. Unfortunately, South Korea got sucked back into the peninsula issues and problems with Japan and China and all that, so, you know, you took your eyes off Southeast. But this time, I hope it is for real and the policy is for real, and that you come through with, you know, concrete steps. And I would suggest that one way to start with the people-to-people thing is to have an open skies policy with ASEAN. ASEAN is now negotiating open skies very close to an agreement for the European Union, and I do not think your airlines should fear that ASEAN Airlines will take away your business. You should see it as an opportunity to be a hub for Southeast Asia for the Pacific markets. Why is it that flights from Singapore touch down in Narita and Hong Kong before going on to the United States? This could be doing it in Seoul. Likewise, why I, in Singapore, have to fly through Incheon to come to, and then transfer to Gimpo and then come to Jeju? There should be direct flights. I think it's very important that you open up your skies. That's one. 

 

And secondly, as I said, you know the digital space you know build warehouse things. And the third thing why you can cooperate with the lesser developed countries of ASEAN is to have common programs, you know, with the more developed countries, especially in the Mekong sub-region river, to conjoin projects. You can come in with the Americans, you can come in with Japanese and you can come in with the Chinese since your relation is improving with China. And actually President Moon has said he is open to the Belt and Road Initiative and the Japanese also are taking a more favorable view of BRI now than before. This opens up a window for trilateral, quadrilateral, multilateral cooperation to work in ASEAN countries. I think you should use that.

 

Q4. The confrontation between two major powers, the US and China, has aggravated regional peace and security. How do you evaluate the current status of the US-China relationship and its influence in Asia, in particular in terms of the evolving of China’s “Belt and Road Initiatives” and US-proposed “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” strategy? 

 

Well, I think this is where, I think, you might want to move even closer to ASEAN and you do not want to be the stuffing in the sandwich in any way. As you know ASEAN has a policy of open architecture. It welcomes everybody. Its friendship with all and there is no doubt that the trajectory of US-China relationship does not look very healthy at this point. Maybe, eventually, they will work it out, but at this point it is very alarming all the signals are not very positive. And it's coming down to the Americans even talking about restricting Chinese students in American universities. So it does not look very positive. It's important that other countries, the middle powers countries like Singapore, everybody else we don't want to get caught in this fight, you know. We want to be friends with all, you know. The United States is a geopolitical construct in Asia but China is a closer neighbor. It's a physical reality. We don't want to be caught between these two elephants that look like they are heading for something that's not very pleasant. 

 

Q5. How will multilateral talks such as the Jeju Forum contribute to promoting peace better? What direction do you think the Jeju Forum should take in the future?

 

Well I think it is doing a wonderful job these past 15, 16, 17 years or something. The forum has evolved over the years, and it is getting a very high level of debate. I think it has done a wonderful job. Sometimes I do think there are too many parallel sessions so if you want, if you are really interested in two or three subjects, it becomes very difficult to choose one. And maybe what you can do then is to put everything on YouTube so that those of us who miss some sessions can go back and watch it separately, you know. That's one suggestion that I like to make but otherwise it's a great effort. And I think you have a wonderful leader, Ambassador Suh, and I think he's put new energy into it. And I'm really grateful to be invited back to the Jeju Forum.

 

Q6. What do you think is an effective measure with regard to the role of the media and their contribution and operation to promote peace?


Well, I think as a practitioner, media practitioner for decades, I think media people are essentially fair-minded people. They mean well, they're well-meaning people. What they lack is access and information. And if you give them that access and that information and the opportunity to widen their knowledge, forums like these would do a great job in helping them understand. Because a lot of mistakes or the bad assessments that you see in newspaper are not because of bad intentions but because of incomplete information. And that if you can fill that gap, it would be a big service to the people because they'd be better informed.

 

Q7. Any last words to JejuTube viewers?

 

I think we have a wonderful Jeju Forum and I'm really looking forward to the debates to come and to see next year's program as it changes with the development in the Korean peninsula.