International Asia PM Lee: Clash between US and China more likely than 5 years...

PM Lee: Clash between US and China more likely than 5 years ago

'Signficant uncertainty over which way China is going'




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Singapore—In a new interview with the BBC, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that tensions between the two global superpowers, the United States and China, have escalated from five years ago.

However, he said the possibility of military conflict is “not yet high”.

But if the two countries continue with their hardline policies, they may arrive at an impasse.

PM Lee’s interview, which will air on the BBC World News’ Talking Business Asia starting this weekend, comes ahead of high-level discussions between the US and China next week.

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The talks will be held in Alaska and are the first under the administration of US President Joseph Biden.

PM Lee noted that the political direction China has taken has caused tensions with several nations.

“There is significant uncertainty [and] anxiety over which way China is going and whether this will be good for them.

“I do not think that is in China’s interest,” he said in the interview.

BBC News noted Singapore’s economic and political influence in Asia, and said that PM Lee’s perspectives are often sought-after.

The US is Singapore’s biggest investor as well as one of its key security partners.

China, on the other hand, is the country’s biggest export market and its economic rise has been of great advantage to Singapore.

While tensions between the two superpowers began while former US President Donald Trump was still in office, there are no signs that they will ease under Mr Biden.

However, PM Lee told the BBC he hopes Mr Biden is someone who  “believes in multilateralism and international trade”.

He added, “The US is still number one but number two [China] is not so far behind. That is what is difficult for the US to accept.”

Some analysts have estimated that China’s economy will overtake the US economy by 2028, five years before it had been previously predicted to do so.

Under President Xi Jinping, China’s economic ascent has been accompanied by internal and external aggression, the BBC noted, which has been a cause for concern for other countries.

However, PM Lee said, Singapore cannot afford to pick a side, noting that this is a problem for many nations.

“We are all hoping and encouraging the two large powers to think very carefully before deciding that the other one is an adversary which has to be kept down, if not put down.

“What we would like to see is China being a country where its prosperity, development, and growing strength is welcomed by other countries in the world, who see this as an opportunity for them to prosper together and live in a stable world together.”


Read also: S’pore economy expected to bounce back in 2021, dependent on progress of vaccinations: PM Lee

S’pore economy expected to bounce back in 2021, dependent on progress of vaccinations: PM Lee

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