The world is certaily changing fast, with the 14 percent of the world’s population in the ‘West’ either stunningly ignorant of the rest or sleep-walking to oblivion. But if you look elsewhere, you will find that Asian leaders are beginning to state clear support for China in global terms.
The first example is Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who stated on Friday, 31 May:
“U.S. had good capabilities to do research and development in the past. They must accept that that capability can also be found in the East.” In other words, the US has ceased to innovate and one should not use an implicitly colonial mindset to ignore developments in the East.
Even more: “But if you want to have a situation in which you are always ahead, (and) if you are not ahead, I will ban you; I will send warships to your country; that is not competition; that is threatening people. That is not the approach we should use.” Nicely put.
Instead: “Today the East has learned all about research and development, so it is no longer a question of copying products from the West. Their research enabled them to produce even better products.”
The second example is a wise keynote speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue by Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore. Apart from indicating strong support for and engagement with the Belt and Road Initiative, Lee also provided a bigger picture of a changing world. Let me quote the full article from Xinhua News:
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said here Friday that countries need to accustom themselves to a larger role for China, and it is neither possible nor wise to prevent the world’s second-largest economy from growing.
“Countries have to accept that China will continue to grow and strengthen, and that it is neither possible nor wise for them to prevent this from happening,” Lee said during his keynote speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in this city-state.
China has totally changed since it started opening up 40 years ago, and its gross domestic product (GDP) has grown by more than 25 times in real terms, Lee said.
“On many counts, China’s growth is a tremendous boon, both for itself and the world,” Lee told the participants at the annual security dialogue.
“China has become a massive production and manufacturing base, lowering costs for the world’s producers … It is also a huge market, importing everything from commodities and electronic components to aircraft and fine wines,” he said.
New international rules need to be made in many areas, Lee said. “China will expect a say in this process, because it sees the present rules as having been created in the past without its participation. This is a reasonable expectation.”
Commenting on the China-U.S. relationship, Lee said it is the most important in the world today. “How the two work out their relations and frictions will define the international environment for decades to come.”
“The bottom line is that the U.S. and China need to work together, and with other countries too, to bring the global system up to date, and to not upend the system,” he added.
To succeed in this, he said each must understand the other’s point of view, and reconcile each other’s interests.
Lee said a prolonged period of tension and uncertainty between China and the United States will be “extremely damaging.”
“Many serious international problems like the Korean situation, nuclear non-proliferation, and climate change cannot be tackled without the full participation of the U.S. and China, together with other countries.”
What’s more, the tension between China and the United States can cause damage to the world economy especially in “globalized markets and production chains.”
Lee said that he hoped that the United States and China “find a constructive way forward, competing certainly, but at the same time cooperating on major issues of mutual interest.”
The Shangri-La Dialogue, officially known as the Asia Security Summit, kicked off Friday and will last till June 2 in Singapore with a focus on the security situation and relevant challenges in the Asia-Pacific.