Singapore Calls U.S.-China Talks ‘Step in the Right Direction’

Singapore’s deputy prime minister praised the renewed but rocky dialogue between U.S. and China under the Biden administration and called on the competitors to chart a constructive way forward.

The comments Monday from Heng Swee Keat, who’s also the finance minister and tipped be the next prime minister, follow the first face-to-face talks between the two top economies since President Joe Biden’s election. The talks last week in Alaska opened with public acrimony and ended without agreeing on a way forward.

“Despite the tough rhetoric, it is a step in the right direction,” Heng said at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference. “The meeting showed a recognition from both sides on the need for dialogue and cooperation.”

Singapore -- a small city-state with an out-sized regional influence given its role as a financial hub -- has sought to navigate American efforts to counter China’s influence in Southeast Asia and encourages cooperation on common challenges including Covid-19 and climate change.

“It is important that they persevere, maintain open channels of communication, find a way forward to deal with their differences and manage their tensions and frictions,” Heng said. “While tensions could intensify for some time, I hope that eventually a framework for cooperation will be developed, even as both sides continue to compete, as major powers do.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.