Singapore’s Prime Minister cautions about the severe outcomes of a potential conflict between China and the U.S. at the Boao Forum for Asia

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Singapore Prime Minister met up with the Secretary of the Communist Party of China Guangdong Provincial Committee Huang Kunming.

30th March 2023 – (Hainan) Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned of the grave consequences that would result from any conflict between China and the United States while speaking at the Boao Forum for Asia in China on Thursday, 30th March. He spoke about the most worrying state of the relationship between the two superpowers and their intractable issues, including trade, investments, supply chains, cybersecurity, emerging technologies, and freedom of navigation. Mr Lee emphasised that big powers have a heavy responsibility to maintain stable and workable relations, and that he hopes both countries can stabilise their relationship and establish sufficient mutual trust and respect to cooperate in areas where their interests are aligned. The Prime Minister also highlighted Asia’s enormous promise and the need for countries to deepen cooperation with each other.

According to Mr Lee, big powers have a heavy responsibility to maintain stable and workable relations with one another. He cited the intractable issues that have arisen between the US and China, such as trade, investments, supply chains, cybersecurity, emerging technologies, and freedom of navigation. Mr Lee hopes that both countries will succeed in stabilising their relationship and establishing sufficient mutual trust and respect to cooperate in areas where their interests are aligned.

In addition to discussing U.S.-China relations, Prime Minister Lee spoke about Asia’s enormous promise and the need for countries in Asia to deepen cooperation with each other. He noted that Asia is home to more than half the world’s population, and Asians are increasingly better educated, and brimming with energy, ideas, and dynamism. Realising Asia’s promise depends on the region remaining stable, inclusive, and open. Mr Lee acknowledged that Asia is affected by the troubled global environment and strategic tensions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the tensions between China and the U.S.. He believes that progress on tackling urgent problems such as climate change, energy and food security, and pandemic preparedness has been severely impeded.

Prime Minister Lee believes that countries in Asia should continue to promote economic cooperation and good relations between China and other countries in the region. He noted that China has become the largest trading partner for almost every country in Asia. Regional and global initiatives such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Belt and Road Initiative, and the Global Development Initiative, have been launched. The Prime Minister also mentioned that Singapore’s ties with China are “doing well,” with both countries updating and improving the China-Singapore free trade agreement.

Mr Lee believes that countries in Asia should build a dense mesh of cooperation and interdependence, rather than a hub and spokes model. He noted agreements between member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – such as the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement – as examples of partnership efforts. While not every country needs to be in every group, collectively, the different groupings “build a resilient and interlocking network of cooperation among countries in Asia.”