Singapore’s Lee Urges China to ‘Recalibrate’ as Influence Grows

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday urged China to “recalibrate” as it pursues greater influence globally and to take on greater responsibility for driving international objectives from climate change action to more open markets.

Addressing the World Economic Forum, Lee said as China continued to rise, it was contingent on the country to make adjustments in line with its larger stature.

China should reconsider its position so “that its influence in the world is not only there because of its own power and energy, but also there because of legitimacy and acceptance by other countries -- that this is something which is benefiting other countries, and which is not at the expense of other countries,” he said.

Under President Joe Biden, the U.S. has an opportunity to steer its relationship with China “toward safer waters,” Lee said, noting it was not too late for the two sides to reset the tone of their interactions and avert a clash that would become a “generational twilight struggle.”

The comments follow newly confirmed Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s moves this week to reassure Asian allies of the U.S.’ regional commitments, with Biden and his team staking out early opposition to Chinese territorial claims. It also comes as India’s foreign minister said on Thursday New Delhi’s relations with Beijing were at a crossroad with “profound repercussions, not just for the two nations, but for the entire world.”

As one of Southeast Asia’s most vocal leaders on the enduring U.S.-China competition in Asia, Lee said last year America’s security presence remains vital to the region, and that Beijing would be unable to take over that role even with its increasing military might.

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