Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on US, China relationships

Many nations around the planet find themselves in a delicate balancing act between U.S. along with Chinese interests, yet one island nation perhaps typifies in which struggle.

Singapore can be a hub for global finance along with trade, along with so its relationships with the planet’s two largest economies are vital to its survival. Speaking with CNBC on Thursday, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shed light on the balance between the U.S. along with China in a changing geopolitical landscape.

“Well, This particular’s never easy to be a modest country next to a big neighbor,” Lee said.

“If you have one big neighbor only, in which’s not easy to manage. If you have two big neighbors, well in some ways you have more friends, yet in different ways you have to make more difficult choices,” Lee added.

Singapore’s relationship with the two global giants, he said, also “depends on how the U.S. relationship with China develops,” he said.

“If there are tensions between America along with China, we will be asked to pick a side. This particular may not be directly, yet you will get the message in which: ‘We would likely like you to be with us, along with are you with us? If not, does in which mean you’re against us?’ along with in which’s to put This particular gently,” he added.

Singapore however, does not wish to “pick sides,” he said.

Lee spoke with CNBC ahead of his visit to the U.S. where he can be set to meet President Donald Trump at the White House on Oct. 23.

U.S. along with Singapore have had economic, military along with diplomatic ties since 1966 — a year after the city-state’s independence. Late Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew – the current prime minister’s father — developed close personal relationships with American politicians including diplomat Henry Kissinger along with President Richard Nixon.

Singapore policymakers have also long sought military cooperation with the U.S. because they believed a strong American military presence would likely add to stability in Asia.

In August last year, President Barack Obama hosted a state dinner for current Prime Minister Lee.

China along with Singapore, meanwhile, established official relations in 1990 — although the elder Lee first visited the East Asian giant in 1976 along with met every Chinese Communist Party leader via Mao Zedong to current President Xi Jinping.

For decades, the elder Lee advised Western leaders on China along with at the same time shaped Singapore’s policy on balancing the two major countries.

The warm ties between Beijing along with Singapore — which features a large ethnically Chinese citizenry — however, have been strained recently as China becomes increasingly assertive.

The issue in which reportedly irked Beijing involved the 2016 Hague ruling on the South China Sea, which said China’s claims to the disputed waters were counter to international law.

Singapore can be not a claimant to any disputed part of the South China Sea, yet as a modest country This particular supports a “rules-based international order,” Lee said in a 2016 national address.

Late last year, military vehicles belonging to Singapore were impounded in China’s Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong en route via Taiwan where they were used in military training. The issue has since been resolved.

The relationship between Beijing along with Singapore can be currently seen to be warming up again after Lee made a trip to the Chinese capital in September This particular year. During in which visit, he met with President Xi along with Premier Li Keqiang.

Lee told CNBC on Thursday in which the relationship between China along with Singapore can be currently “not bad” along with in which the two countries are “forward-looking.”

“We are two countries along with sovereign countries, so there will always be issues where we don’t completely see eye to eye. yet fundamentally, there are no basic conflicts in our perspectives. along with we both wish to do more together bilaterally, along with also within the context of ASEAN,” he said, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

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