Singapore, an Ally, Gives China a Warning

By Perlez, Jane | International Herald Tribune, September 8, 2012 | Go to article overview

Singapore, an Ally, Gives China a Warning


Perlez, Jane, International Herald Tribune


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told Communist Party elites not to underestimate the United States as a world power.

In an unusual public airing of strategic problems surrounding China's rise, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore has warned China that it should view the United States not as a declining power, but as a nation with the ability to innovate and bounce back.

Speaking Thursday at the Central Party School, the prestigious training ground for members of the Communist Party, Mr. Lee also suggested that China try to solve its maritime disputes in the South China Sea regionally, through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, rather than country by country. The United States favors the regional approach.

Mr. Lee is the son of Lee Kuan Yew, the longtime leader of Singapore who forged strong relations with China and the United States and successfully balanced his small city-state between the two, and his views carry considerable weight among members of the Chinese elite. By choosing to make his pointed remarks in a prime setting like the Central Party School, the prime minister was ensuring that they carried extra heft. The president of the school is Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to be the next leader of China.

Mr. Lee addressed the question of the United States' standing in the world, a subject that fascinates Chinese academics and writers in the state-run news media, many of whom have written caustically in recent months about Washington's budget difficulties, political gridlock and what they see as a crisis of confidence.

"It is currently facing some very difficult problems, but it is not a nation in decline," he said of the United States. "The U.S. is an enormously resilient and creative society, which attracts and absorbs talent from all over the world, including many from China and the rest of Asia."

In a jab at China, Mr. Lee noted, "All eight Nobel Prize winners in science who are of Chinese descent either were or subsequently became American citizens."

"We should never underestimate the U.S. capacity to reinvigorate and reinvent itself," he said. …

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