Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Shangri-La Dialogue appealed to China and the US to “find a constructive way forward” rather than engaging in conflict.
His remarks reflected Asia-Pacific countries’ anxiety over been pressured to take sides amid escalating tensions between the world’s biggest two economies.
The US has upgraded its Cold War-style strategic constraint on China.
Washington has seriously affected regional stability by trying to force Asia-Pacific governments to take sides.
We oppose the US forging confrontation.
It ignores regional countries’ desire for steady development and could eventually jeopardize their national interests. Peaceful and stable surroundings are important for China to develop.
To safeguard its own and regional interests, Beijing cannot leave Washington’s Cold War mind-set alone or let it succeed in starting a cold war.
It is a natural and rational choice for China to promote relations with neighbouring and regional countries. We do not have a Cold War mindset to confront one another.
Our goal is to advance cooperation and development in the Asia-Pacific region to form a mutually beneficial community with a shared future and to dissolve cold war risks.
In the past four decades of reform and opening-up, China has made outstanding achievements and has been constantly contributing to peace, stability, and development in Asia-Pacific. China unswervingly adheres to an independent foreign policy of peace, considers the needs of middle and small countries, and respects every country as an independent.
The current situation could provide an opportunity for China’s neighbouring diplomacy. Beijing should expand cooperation and advance regional common development.
The Belt and Road Initiative attends to Asia-Pacific countries’ desire for progress.
It could be an ideal platform for China to show its openness and inclusiveness and build broader regional cooperation.
China’s rapid economic growth can back neighbouring countries to withstand pressure from the US and not take sides.
China should also accelerate its pace in coordinating specific issues with neighbouring countries, such as consulting on the development of the 5G network, upgrading the free trade zone between China and ASEAN, properly settling the China-India trade imbalance, and pushing forward the negotiations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
This is the biggest difference between China and the US in coping with the trade war. China doesn’t engage in cold war confrontation but in common development.
Asia-Pacific countries should keep their eyes sharp and see that the US is not only splitting the region but also adopting economic unilateralism and economic terrorism.
Asia has entered a crucial stage of development. Its economic growth has become an important impetus for the world.
If Asian countries are engaged in a cold war, they will regress. Therefore, Asian countries must create an inclusive economic system to further deepen cooperation and advance economic growth.
China has always been ready for constructive cooperation with the US.
The problem is whether the US is willing to treat China fairly and make adjustments that will benefit China, the US and the rest of the world.