Asian government representatives used a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to lash out against foreign currency speculators, accusing them of deliberately destabilizing their countries' currencies. Addressing an audience that included U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the foreign ministers of the nine-nation trade alliance accused U.S. and European financiers of "well- coordinated efforts to destabilize ASEAN currencies for self-serving purposes."
Malaysian and Thai diplomats singled out U.S. financier George Soros for attempting to punish ASEAN for extending membership to Myanmar. Myanmar has been a target of imperialist pressure because of its relative economic isolation from international banks and its friendly relation to China.
Currency speculation has forced Thailand and the Philippines to devalue their currencies in the past month. Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have plunged into economic chaos because of the drastic drop in value of their currencies relative to the dollar.
"The United States has been watching developments in Southeast Asian financial markets," Albright said on July 28. "Our Treasury Department is in close contact with the IMF."
In a not-so-veiled threat, she told the Asian foreign ministers that this sort of dramatic devaluation could be avoided if ASEAN "liberalizes its financial services."
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced on July 28 that his government was considering punitive actions against foreign speculators.
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