Among 10 foreigners being honored by China is Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, for his part in helping China open up to the world economically and diplomatically thereby pushing the country to become an economic marvel.
Lee was honored for propelling Singapore in profoundly engaging with China’s reforms and in its act of embracing the outside world. Singapore deeply inspires China to strive and achieve economic prosperity under a one-party rule.
Alongside Lee’s accomplishments in economic and international relations, his most laudable achievements were his successes in establishing meritocracy in Singaporean politics and in aligning Singapore with globalization.
Lee Kuan Yew
Born September 16, 1923, Lee was a politician and lawyer who became Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990. During his lengthy rule, Singapore transforms to become the most thriving nation in Southeast Asia. Lee Kuan Yew elevated Singapore, an underprivileged, scandalously twisted port city from the bottom treads of the Third World, to a contemporary First World state with sanitary avenues and spotless political regime in a single generation. He was considered a genuine grand master of international strategy and a shrewd counselor to the leaders of the world.
Margaret Thatcher once said “he was never wrong.” Former President Barack Obama also called him “one of the legendary figures of Asia,” while China’s own Xi Jinping called him an “old friend of the Chinese people.”
Lee is the only one outside of China who had such a deep influence on China’s ascendancy and restoration. As proof, in 1978, prior to launching comprehensive economic restructuring, Deng Xiaoping visited Singapore to confer with and seek advice from Lee Kuan Yew and study Lee’s Singapore Model.
Similarly, no one else outside the U.S. has had greater impact than Lee Kuan Yew on U.S. strategy toward an expanding China, that is, from Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger’s opening to Mao Zedong in the early 1970s, to President Obama’s “pivot” to Asia today. Every president since Nixon has sought Lee’s counsel about Asia and the world.