Q12: On Singapore’s relationship with China and the US (FutureChina Global Forum 2017)

提问:在中国莫些人看来,新加坡同美国有着安全伙伴关系。 李总理,你认为中国政府对新加坡将来总关系的合法性, 正当性,正确性有没有充分理解? 反过来,在美国有一些认为,新加坡和中国有一种特殊关系。 也许有些人在美国看来是说 “Too warm a relationship”。 那么李总理认为美国政府 对新加坡这种对外政策态势有没有充分的理解?谢谢。 PM Lee: Let me explain this in English. [Laughter] Mr Robin Hu: This gentlemen was using English to ask questions so I think it is alright. I think it is important that we know what our basic positioning is and then we can try to have other countries understand. There has to be a consistent position, whichever country you are speaking to. I cannot be on one side speaking in English and another side speaking in Chinese. It has to be one position. Our relationship with America is friendly cooperation. We are not an ally but we are a security cooperation partner. And we believe that America has a significant role in ensuring the security and stability of Asia-Pacific. And we believed so and said so for many years and we acted on that belief, including inviting American ships and aircraft to stop by in Singapore and use our facilities as they operate in the region. I think that it is correct that the Americans continue to play an important role. They may not be as overwhelmingly dominant as before economically but they remain a superpower and they continue to have significant contributions to make in the region. And that is the position we made for many years. We have explained it publicly. We explained it when we meet Chinese officials. They appreciate our point of view. I understand they have a different point of view but they appreciate where we stand and why we have to take that position as Singapore. On the other side, we see China as being a positive for the region as it grows and prospers because we think China which is unstable and poor can cause a lot of trouble for Southeast Asia and for the world, and it is far better that China be strong and confident and be cooperating with the world, whether with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) or the BRI (Belt Road Initiative) or the many other schemes which the Chinese have been working on and active diplomacy. Then it is for China either to be turned inwards on itself or to be at odds with the world. And we said so and we believe that it is good that China grows, prospers and plays its rightful role in the world in a constructive way. I do not know that all Americans share that view. Some Americans believe that the Chinese growing strong may become a challenge to them and it is better if the Chinese do not grow strong so fast and let us take some time to worry about this. And the Chinese of course, there is a strand, often you see them in think tanks and I do not know what your perspective is but they often ask some professors who will say the Americans are trying to slow us down, hinder our growth, to restrict our role in the world, to prevent us from standing up again 170-something years after the Opium War. So I think there will be these different perspectives and I do not expect that we have convinced everybody in America or everybody in China but I think that we are taking the right position and at least the foreign policy establishments will appreciate where we stand even though they wish us to be tilted more one way or another.

Danny Hutson

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