China’s development is good for Asia, but countries also want to maintain ties with Japan, the United States and Europe: Prime Minister Lee
China’s development is good for Asia, but countries also want to maintain ties with Japan, the United States and Europe: Prime Minister Lee

China’s development is good for Asia, but countries also want to maintain ties with Japan, the United States and Europe: Prime Minister Lee

SINGAPORE – China’s development is positive for the region, but countries in the Asia-Pacific also want to maintain their very important ties with other economies such as Japan as well as the United States and Europe, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

And countries like Singapore want to nurture these ties with Japan, which is the second largest economy in Asia, and maintain a balance so that they have resilience and are not overly dependent on any single party, he added.

“Overall, we can thrive together, benefit from our interdependence and have the incentive to keep the region peaceful, stable and secure.”

Prime Minister Lee spoke in an interview with the Japanese media group Nikkei on Friday (May 20) ahead of its international conference on the future of Asia, which he will attend this week in Tokyo.

During the interview with Nikkei editor-in-chief Tetsuya Iguchi, published on Monday, May 23, Prime Minister Lee was asked about the slump in regional economic and military balance vis-à-vis China over the past 10 years, as well as the role that the United States and Japan to achieve “better balance” in the region.

In response, he acknowledged that as China’s economy has grown and developed, its influence has grown and its impact on the regional economy has become significant.

“They are the largest trading partner for almost every country in Asia, including Japan and Singapore. It is natural and it is something that the regional countries generally welcome because it creates opportunities for cooperation, trade, prosperity,” he said. added. that many countries want to take advantage of the opportunities offered by China’s growth.

Prime Minister Lee said: “China has also systematically engaged the region. They have the Belt and Road Initiative. They now have the Global Development Initiative (GDI). Singapore supports these. We are a member of the GDI Friends Group.”

He added: “We think it is positive because it is far better for China to thrive and be engaged in the region than for it to operate on its own outside the rules that apply to everyone else, not properly integrated and coordinated with the rest of the region.

“Or alternatively, that it is unsuccessful, poor and troubled. It can also cause some difficulties for the region.”

Prime Minister Lee noted that the United States has a large share and significant investment in the region, with foreign direct investment being “much larger than China’s still, although China’s outgoing investment is growing”.

Although the United States is not as large a trading partner as China, many of the goods traded with China eventually go on to the United States, Prime Minister Lee added.

“That’s why our economic ties with the United States are very important.”

Prime Minister Lee said that while it would be ideal for the United States to accede to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – a FTA between 11 countries in the region, which under Japanese leadership was based on the Trans-Pacific Partnership after the Trump administration withdrew from the agreement – this would not be possible from a political point of view.

Instead, the United States has come up with a proposal for an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework to be launched this week, which countries like Japan and Singapore plan to join.

“We support this because it is a valuable sign that the Biden administration understands the importance of economic diplomacy in Asia.

“And we hope that the political situation in America will one day enable them to resume talking about a free trade agreement in some form and talk about market access. But that may take some time,” said Prime Minister Lee.


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