Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew reflects on the Rise of China in this piece by Time Magazine five years ago in 2005. As I’ve shared before in this blog, if there is one person outside of China that knows China, it has to be Lee Kuan Yew. China regularly sends its mayors and future leaders to Singapore to learn about governance, I have seen the campus – it is rather majestic. In many ways, I see modern China as Singapore 2.0 only about 280 times larger (in terms of population).
All the questions of identity Singaporean Chinese had to deal with growing up in a Capitalist + Confucianist + Colonialist environment, the Chinese in China are going through now. To catch a glimpse into his insights, here’s a teaser when asked about how China decided to coin their ascension as a ‘peaceful rise’ –
My first reaction was to tell one of their think tanks, “It’s a contradiction in terms; any rise is something that is startling.” And they said, “What would you say?” I replied: “Peaceful renaissance, or evolution, or development.” A recovery of ancient glory, an updating of a once great civilization. But it’s already done. Now the Chinese have to construe it as best they can.
In a nutshell, China is preoccupied with one really simple thing – stability at all costs.
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Lee Kuan Yew Reflects – THE RISE OF CHINA
by Michael Elliott, Zoher Abdoolcarim and Simon Elegant
Source – Time Magazine, published Dec 12, 2005
TIME: The coming East Asia summit is an unprecedented gathering of Asia’s leaders. Do you see it as an epochal moment for the region?
LEE: It happened in an unplanned, almost accidental, way. Abdullah Badawi, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, offered to host an East Asia summit: ASEAN plus three — the three being China, Japan and South Korea. China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, then offered to host the second summit. That would move the center of gravity away from Southeast to Northeast Asia and make some countries anxious. We agreed that we should also invite India, Australia and New Zealand and keep the center in ASEAN; also, India would be a useful balance to China’s heft. This is a getting-together of countries that believe their economic and cultural relations will grow over the years. And this will be a restoration of two ancient civilizations: China and India. With their revival, their influence will again spread into Southeast Asia. It would mean great prosperity for the region, but could also mean a tussle for power. Therefore, we think it best that from the beginning, we bring all the parties in together. It’s not Asians versus whites. Everybody knows Australia and New Zealand are close to the U.S. There shouldn’t be any concern that this is an anti-American grouping. It’s a neater balance. Read the rest of this entry »
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