One of the challenges which the Asean region faces is to make the 21st century a period of mutual trust, says Malaysia's former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
He said the past century was all too often one of mutual destruction, or at least, the threat of mutual destruction.
However, he expressed optimism over Asean's future as it had already built significant levels of mutual trust within collaborative platforms which promoted even greater integration.
Abdullah noted that not only the eyes of the world were increasingly upon Asia, with more expectations in the region, expectations within the region had also risen fast.
He was speaking at a conference themed, 'Responsibility In The Pursuit Of Common Security And Promoting Peace Through Asean And Asean Plus Three', in conjunction with a two-day, 3rd World Peace Forum at Tsinghua University here on Saturday.
Speaking of Asean Plus Three, Abdullah said the cooperation had been the main pillar of political and economic cooperation across Asia for more than a decade.
"Although it is a relatively young institution, it is a maturing one, allowing us to develop a better understanding of each other's interests and, more importantly, allowing us to find many areas of common interest," he added.
On the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, Abdullah emphasised that the countries involved solve problems through negotiations or discussions to ensure the issue did not evolve into a conflict.
He also believed China s rising power and influence would benefit the Asean region.
Abdullah was accompanied by wife, Tun Jeanne Abdullah. Also present were Malaysian Ambassador to China Datuk Iskandar Sarudin and wife, Datin Rahmah Mohd Lajis.