US should accept rather than resist China’s rise, says Singapore Foreign Minister

US should accept rather than resist China’s rise, says Singapore Foreign Minister

21/05/19

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan’s speech in Washington DC last week – in which he called for the US to accept China’s rise – highlights how US-China trade tensions are exerting pressure on smaller Asian economies.

Speaking in the US capital last Wednesday, Minister Balakrishnan called for “constructive competition” between China and the US, and argued that treating China as an adversary to be contained is not a feasible long-term approach, Channel News Asia reported.

“We hope that both sides will work out a strategic response that will take into account China’s increasing influence and weight in the international arena, and that both sides will find the way to accommodate each other’s legitimate interests,” he said.

“Competition with China is inevitable, but it does not have to be a zero-sum game. Constructive competition should take place within the bounds of established international norms and an adherence to international law.”

The Minister’s comments reflect the tightrope that many Asian economies now find themselves walking as the US and China engage in a damaging trade war which is destabalising markets in the region and beyond.

“For us in the middle, especially for small countries, we do not wish to be forced into making invidious choices,” Minister Balakrishnan said.

A failure for the US and China to strike a deal will disproportionately impact trade-reliant countries like Singapore, Bloomberg reports, where trade is worth three-times GDP.

The impact of the trade war on Asian economies will be discussed at the upcoming Asia House Global Trade Dialogue in Singapore on 7 November. 

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