NICE, France — There is a danger China is becoming a "great black hole" in Asia, siphoning off funds, expertise and workers from other Asian developing nations, according to officials who attended the Asian Development Bank's annual meeting here earlier this month.
Thai banker Ashwin Kongsiri, president of the Industrial Finance Corp. of Thailand, said China's appetite for funds is mind-boggling.
Indonesia, the largest recipient of ADB funds, poses a similar but lesser problem, he said.
Singapore's Senior Minister Lee Kwan Yew also warned that China's powerful suction effect on funds partly accounts for a slowdown in foreign investment in the newly industrializing nations of Southeast Asia.
"The implications for Asia, as well for the rest of the world, are both positive and negative."
On the one hand, China's growth will add an extra 0.5% to 1.0% to annual gross domestic product growth in Asia.
On the other hand, China, the world's most populous nation, is already absorbing funds, workers and expertise.
In 10 years, China will be 10 times the economic force of Japan, Lee said.
"That changes the whole equation," he said.
Kongsiri said despite the traditional thriftiness of the people of east Asia, private- and government-sector infrastructural spending needs will outpace their ability to save.