Southeast Asian countries should start to follow China's example in looking for more sustainable and inclusive economic growth, said a Malaysian expert.
To some extent, many countries in the region have similar economic challenges faced by China, said Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow with S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
As China should embrace the economic "new normal", Southeast Asia should similarly adopt the idea of improving the quality of the economy that focus on innovation, sustainability and inclusiveness, Oh told Xinhua in a recent interview.
"In the explosive growth phase of this developing part of the world, sometimes not every stretch of the society is enjoying the fruit of the growth, and sometimes the quality of the growth is to be further improved," he said.
Oh, a former political secretary to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, said China had already embarked on the much-needed reforms, shown in its recent 13th Five-Year Plan for 2016-2020 which calls for innovative, coordinated, green, open and inclusive development.
Following a "phenomenal" growth of the past three decades, one of the challenges for China in the next 5 to 10 years will be how to make sure growth is enjoyed by a wider spectrum of the society in addition to maintain a certain level of growth, Oh said.
"It's important not only for the Chinese society but also for the economic well-being of the rest of the region as well," he said, "I think the Chinese government is right focusing on a inclusive society, a more sustainable growth and innovation as the propellant for China to move forward."
China's GDP growth slowed to 6.7 percent year on year in the first quarter of the year, according to latest official data, but several key indicators pointed to signs of stabilizing.
"China's latest quarter figures was indeed an indication that the economic situation in China in not perhaps as negative as some would had expected," said Oh.
As he pointed out, there is no other alternative to prop up the world economy as China remains the locomotive to pull along the growth.
"China does not have to worry too much about a slightly lower growth figure," he said, "A slower growth in China is still quite impressive compared to either the developing or the developed world. It is actually not such a bad thing for China, because it enables China to ponder upon some of its future growth directions."
"China could not forever remain the world's largest factory, but should also be the world's largest incubation lab for innovation," he added.