SINGAPORE – China’s development is positive for the region, but Asia-Pacific countries also want to maintain their very important ties with other economies like Japan as well as the United States and Europe, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.
And countries like Singapore want to maintain those ties with Japan, which is by far the second largest economy in Asia, and maintain a balance so that they are resilient and not too dependent on one party, he said. -he adds.
“Overall, we can prosper together, benefit from our interdependence and have the incentive to maintain peace, stability and security in the region.”
Prime Minister Lee was speaking in an interview with Japanese media group Nikkei on Friday (May 20) ahead of his 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 (23 May), Prime Minister Lee was asked about the tilting of the regional economic and military balance towards China over the past 10 years. , as well as on the role of the United States and Japan in achieving a “better balance” in the region.
In response, he acknowledged that as the Chinese economy grows and develops, its influence has increased and its impact on the regional economy has become considerable.
“They are the biggest trading partner of almost all countries in Asia, including Japan and Singapore. It is natural, and it is something that countries in the region generally welcome, because it creates opportunities cooperation, trade and prosperity,” he said, adding that many countries want to take advantage of the opportunities offered by China’s growth.
Prime Minister Lee said, “China has also been consistently engaging in the region. They have the Belt and Road Initiative. They now have the Global Development Initiative (GDI). Singapore supports them. We are a member of the Group of Friends of GDI.”
He added: “We think this is positive because it is much better for China to prosper and engage in the region, to operate on its own, outside the rules that apply to everyone, not properly integrated and coordinated with the rest of the region.
“Or he fails, he is poor and troubled. It can also cause a lot of difficulties for the region.”
Prime Minister Lee noted that the United States has significant interest and substantial investment in the region, with foreign direct investment that is “still much larger than that of China, although China’s outward investment is increasing. “.
Although the United States is not as important a trading partner as China, a large part of the goods traded with China end up going to the United States, Premier Lee added.
“Therefore, 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 join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – a free trade agreement (FTA) between 11 countries in the region which, under Japan’s leadership, builds on the Trans-Pacific Partnership after the Trump administration pulled out of the deal – that would not be politically possible.
Instead, the United States has proposed an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework proposal, to be launched this week, and which countries like Japan and Singapore are considering joining.
“We support her because it is a valuable sign that the Biden administration understands the importance of economic diplomacy in Asia.
“And we hope that one day the political situation in America will allow them to start talking about an FTA in some form or another and talking about market access again. But that may take some time,” Prime Minister Lee said.