Singapore — The Critical Spectator blog has made the case that it would be in Singapore’s best interests for US President Donald Trump to win a second term of office in elections on Tuesday (Nov 3), even if his “antics make your stomach churn”.
The blog is written by Mr Michael Petraeus, a Pole who is known to post write-ups that praise the Singapore Government and the country’s way of life.
In a Facebook post on Sunday (Nov 1), Mr Petraeus said that, despite a YouGov poll in September and last month showing that two-thirds of Singaporeans would want Mr Joe Biden, a former US Vice-President and the Democratic Party rival of Mr Trump, to win the polls, it would be better for Singapore if Mr Trump was re-elected.
The blogger’s main argument centres around US-China trade tensions, which have escalated during Mr Trump’s presidency. Mr Petraeus argues that Mr Biden would not be as assertive in relations towards China as Mr Trump had been and would likely continue to be in his second term.
And while in the short term a de-escalation of conflict between the two global superpowers would be to Singapore’s advantage, the “long-term consequences of Biden’s presidency, however, could be far less positive”.
The blogger adds: “China remains a geopolitical threat to Singapore — and not without a reason. The city-state lies at a crucial maritime choke-point that handles most of China’s energy imports and a bulk of its trade with Europe and Africa.”
Beijing would make sure that Singapore, the only other Chinese-majority country state in the world, would remain loyal to it, and a stronger China would mean greater pressure on Singapore.
According to Mr Petraeus, “meekness and indecisiveness in Washington spells long-term trouble for the city-state, even if it could benefit from less intense competition between the two superpowers in the short term”.
And for China, time is of the essence. The blogger writes that the country is “already running out of time” with an ageing population and shrinking labour force, making the next few years “absolutely critical”, hence the need to solidify alliances.
“As long as Beijing has to worry about assertive and largely unpredictable Trump (especially as Europeans and Australians share American concerns), the value of good relations with smaller countries — including Singapore – is going to increase,” he adds.
Without concealing a distaste for Mr Trump’s political rival, he writes: “But with dithering Biden, struggling to string a sentence together, and Democrats more obsessed about culture wars and entrenching themselves in power than international rivalries, China would have more room to bully others with impunity. And as it becomes stronger and disparities between it and smaller nations grow, it is bound to get more dangerous.”
Singapore can also benefit from the rivalry between the two superpowers, as it can “tactfully play them off each other, remaining on good terms with both”.
“Another four years of Trump would force Beijing to adopt a friendlier stance towards other nations, as it needs to defend its global position and can’t do it entirely on its own. Support of unsavory regimes or impoverished Africa, that it has already bought, is not worth much.”
The trade tensions would force Beijing to focus its attention on the US, and not so much on the countries in South-east Asia.
“And that’s good not only for Singapore’s national security but for business as well — even if Trump’s antics make your stomach churn,” Mr Petraeus added. /TISG