Singapore hopes China, US can cooperate while competing

SHANGHAI: Singapore hopes and the United States can develop a relationship based on “coopetition”, that is, to cooperate in mutually beneficial areas while competing, said Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

He added that the recent escalation of trade tensions between the two major powers is “worrying”, as they play “an indispensable role in ensuring peace and stability, and to address global challenges”.

Mr Heng was speaking at the Chinese Executive Leadership Academy Pudong (CELAP) on Sunday, 26 May.

“The China-US relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world. Competition is inevitable, as each nation strives to safeguard her interests and create a better life for her people,” he said.

“Competition can be constructive if managed well as it can spur innovation and drive progress. On the other hand, competition can be disruptive if it degenerates into conflict and rivalry.”

In his speech, Mr Heng also highlighted three global structural shifts: The decline in support for globalisation and a resurgence in protectionist sentiments around the world, borne out of a sense that the fruits of globalisation have not been shared equally; rapid technological advancements which may make many jobs and skills redundant; and demographic change, like ageing populations.

These structural shifts have profound implications for the world, he said, adding that one outcome is “the reduction of inequalities across countries, but an increase in inequalities within countries”.

In response to these shifts, he offered three principles of governance, which must be based on the shared values of society.

“In Singapore, some of our shared values are our commitment to openness, our embrace of multi-culturalism, multi-racialism, multi-religious society, and harmony, our spirit of self-determination and resilience, integrity, as well as care for one another and responsibility,” elaborated Mr Heng.

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“Leaders of a country need to live by their shared values, and to promote them throughout society. This is also an unwavering commitment that each generation of Singaporean leaders make to our people.”

Mr Heng cited three principles of governance – taking an adaptive approach to change; being bold in planning long-term; and being apt at strengthening international cooperation.

On Sunday, Mr Heng also met with CELAP Executive Vice President Cao Wenze and Vice President Zheng Jinzhou.

CELAP is one of the top party schools in China.

It has trained more than 100,000 Communist Party cadres since its establishment in 2005, and it has also seen exchanges with Singapore’s Civil Service College.

Mr Heng added that China and Singapore “share a longstanding and close friendship built on mutual trust”, and that as both sides mark 30 years of formal diplomatic relations next year, Singapore will continue to explore more ways to strengthen cooperation and bilateral ties.

Mr Heng will leave Shanghai for Guangzhou on Sunday, where he will meet Guangdong party chief Li Xi.

His multi-city, eight-day visit to China, his first overseas trip since becoming Deputy Prime Minister, ends on Wednesday.

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