The Future of Asia 2012

Any Major China Conflicts Far Off: Singapore's Lee

Thursday, May 24, 2012

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Former Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, speaking at a symposium in Tokyo on Thursday, said he does not believe there will be a conflict between China and the U.S. in the near future.

"I think China cannot afford to antagonize the U.S., because it needs its investments and technology," Lee said. "Therefore, the interdependence on the economic side will not be allowed to deteriorate to a point where there is a conflict."

Speaking at the 18th International Conference on the Future of Asia, Lee did caution the long-term was more unpredictable, particularly if the Chinese economy continues to grow at its current pace. "If China exceeds the U.S. in GDP, it will spend more on defense. There are many imponderables along this road, including whether China should protest the U.S. Navy's presence in the Western Pacific," Lee said.

With the possibility of a more powerful China shifting the geopolitical landscape in the region, Lee said the country's rise was a worry for both the U.S. and Asia as a whole.

"I do not believe it is (currently) to the benefit of China to have adversarial relationships with its neighbors or the U.S.," he said. "In 30, 40 or 50 years, when China is out of poverty, that is a different question."

Titles of speakers, names of companies, etc., were correct as of the time when the forum was held.