Neither US nor China can put each other down, says Singapore’s PM Lee
- PM Lee Hsien Loong said both powers have presumed incorrectly they would win in any conflict
- Over the years, Lee has been vocal in calling for the US and China to avoid a clash that could force smaller nations to choose sides
“The reality is, neither side can put the other one down,” Lee said on Tuesday, speaking by video link to the Aspen Security Forum. “I think that is a possible misunderstanding on both sides.”
The US is not in terminal decline, as some in Beijing believe, Lee said. Equally, “China is not going to disappear. This is not the Soviet Union”.
“I don’t know whether Americans realise what a formidable adversary they would be taking on if they decide that China is an enemy,” he said.
Over the years, Lee has been vocal in calling for the world’s biggest economies to avoid a destructive clash that could force smaller countries like Singapore – with its open, trade-reliant economy – to choose sides.
“I think it will be hard to reverse the present trend toward more troubled relations, but many countries still hope that the deterioration in the relationship can be checked,” Lee said.
“Many US friends and allies wish to preserve their extensive ties with both powers. No good outcome can arise from a conflict,” he said.
“It’s vital for the US and China to strive to engage each other to head off a clash which would be disastrous for both sides and the world.”
Lee told the forum that US allies were now feeling a “palpable sense of relief” and looking for long-term foreign policy consistency.
“They hope for a reliable and predictable US which will provide a stable anchor for the international order.”