Singapore PM Lee says world can’t afford US-China conflict

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Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sounded the alarm over worsening relations between the US and China, particularly as China’s political and economic clout in the world grows.

“The world cannot afford a conflict between China and the rest of the world, and in particular between China and the US,” Lee said in an interview with Chinese broadcaster CCTV earlier this month, the transcript of which was released by the prime minister’s office Saturday.

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China “is much more prosperous, contribution to the world economy is much more, and its voice in international affairs is much more,” Lee added.

US officials now expect that a phone call between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping won’t happen as soon as they had hoped, people familiar with the matter have said.

That reflects the broader deterioration in the two countries’ relationship after a string of crises in recent months that has given rise to increasingly aggressive rhetoric on both sides.

“I think you have to take things step by step, and stabilize the relations and then gradually build trust, and gradually try to move forward,” Lee said in the interview. “But it will take time. It is not easy and there are political pressures on both sides.”

The bilateral relationship hit another low point this year after the US shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon and after officials said Beijing was considering providing lethal aid to Moscow for its war in Ukraine.

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