Asean-China economic cooperation can progress faster when political issues are also worked on: PM Lee

1 year ago 50

SINGAPORE - Political issues between Asean and China will need to be worked on to pave the way for further progress on economic cooperation, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

He cited as an example the code of conduct on the South China Sea – negotiations over which have been stalled for years – as something that was not easy to work out, but which Singapore hopes further progress will be made on.

In an interview with broadcaster China Central Television that aired on Friday, PM Lee added that accommodating China’s rise on the global stage required statesmanship and give-and-take by all parties.

Other countries must be able to accept that China today is not what China used to be, he said.

“At the same time, China must also be conscious that the arrangements which worked when you were much smaller... some of those concessions need to be reconsidered, and China has to be able to recalibrate its position in the world.”

This is not easy for both sides, he said. “But I think it is absolutely essential to do, because the world cannot afford a conflict between China and the rest of the world, and in particular between China and the United States.” 

PM Lee’s hour-long interview touched on Singapore-China relations, Singapore’s foreign policy, and China’s rise in the global arena. A full transcript was released to the media by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Host Esther Zou asked what role Singapore can play in upgrading the China-Asean Free Trade Area. Negotiations for the upgrade began in November 2022.

PM Lee said Singapore, as one of the smallest of Asean’s 10 member states, has a “modest conception” ...

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