Lee Kuan Yew offers thoughts on US-China; Philippines to bring South China Sea dispute to UN tribunal

Updated On: Jul 12, 2011

Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, speaking at the FutureChina Global Forum on Monday, said that his advice to China would be to maintain an “equitable and stable relationship with the US for the next 20 to 30 years.”

Mr Lee also mentioned that he has advised US trade representatives to incorporate South-east Asian countries into the US's economic sphere through the use of free trade agreements, and that failure to do so could push those countries to draw closer to China.

Mr Lee also stated his belief that ASEAN will enjoy greater strength and influence in the future if the countries can bargain collectively, rather than individually, with powerful nations such as the US, China, and Japan.

Report: ‘Why China needs the United States…’ [Today Online, 12 Jul 2011]

Meanwhile, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen met with his Chinese counterpart, General Chen Bingde on Monday to discuss complaints each country had with the other’s military.  The two leaders pledged to pursue “ ‘a great opportunity’ to create a shared vision of cooperation,” but neither offered a willingness to alter positions on key issues, like Taiwan and the South China Sea.

General Binge criticised the timing of recent US naval exercises with the Philippines in the South China Sea, calling them “inappropriate” and asking the US to be “more modest and prudent in words and deeds.”

Report & Analysis: China’s top general criticises US exercises [Channel News Asia, 11 Jul 2011]

Still, the two agreed to some military cooperation, pledging to hold counter-piracy drills in the Gulf of Aden by the end of this year, to discuss operational safety in Hawaii and China, and to plan exercises in humanitarian relief for 2012.

General Chen also sought to downplay US concerns over China’s increase in military spending, restating the Chinese party line that the military is a “defensive force.”  He also suggested that the US should consider trimming back its military budget.

“The United States is still recovering from the financial crisis, still has difficulties in its economy,” he said. “It would be a better thing if you did not spend so much money on the military and a little bit more in other areas, so as to play a very positive role…in world peace and stability.”

Report: Bumps remain as military leaders of US and China meet [New York Times, 11 Jul 2011]

While the military leaders met in China, The Philippines separately told China that it plans to take the dispute over the Spratly Islands to a UN tribunal, in hopes of resolving the claims peacefully.  

At a meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Filipino Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario in Beijing last week, both sides agreed that the disputes should not damage overall relations, but neither was willing to cede ground on its claims.  

As little progress has been made, the Philippines will raise the issue before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, which was established to decide cases related to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Report: Manila to China on spats: we’ll go to UN tribunal [Associated Press, 11 Jul 2011]

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