China can’t take over US security presence in Southeast Asia: Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong
- Lee’s op-ed in Foreign Affairs magazine highlighted the importance of the US even as he warned against moves by Washington to contain Beijing
- ‘Any confrontation between these two great powers is unlikely to end as the Cold War did, in one country’s peaceful collapse,’ he wrote
“Despite its increasing military strength, China would be unable to take over the United States’ security role,” he wrote, adding that a US withdrawal in North Asia would compel Japan and South Korea to contemplate developing nuclear weapons to counter North Korea’s growing threat.
“Asia-Pacific countries do not wish to be forced to choose between the United States and China,” Lee wrote, echoing comments he’s made previously. “They want to cultivate good relations with both.”
Lee warned that if the US tried to contain China, or if Beijing sought to build an exclusive sphere of influence in Asia, the two countries “will begin a course of confrontation that will last decades and put the long-heralded Asian century in jeopardy”.
“Any confrontation between these two great powers is unlikely to end as the Cold War did, in one country’s peaceful collapse,” he wrote.
To avoid this, Lee said a collaborative relationship formed within an agreed multilateral framework of rules would foster a system that imposes responsibilities and restraints on all countries.
“The strategic choices that the United States and China make will shape the contours of the emerging global order,” Lee wrote. “It is natural for big powers to compete. But it is their capacity for cooperation that is the true test of statecraft, and it will determine whether humanity makes progress on global problems such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, and the spread of infectious diseases.”