Singapore Wants Nothing to Do With a New Cold War

The mighty city-state will not choose China. Nor will it blindly follow the U.S. into a policy that hurts its interests.

Singapore is something less than thrilled with the mounting U.S.-China rivalry. This much has been made clear by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a series of strikingly trenchant op-eds and speeches over the past year chastising both for threatening the rules-based order that powered East Asia’s rise. In them, Lee has been saying, in so many words: “Look, we – Singapore, the rest of Southeast Asia, anyone on China’s periphery worried about Chinese power and coercion – can’t deal with this problem without the world’s sole superpower. But don’t expect us to follow you into a zero-sum conflict.” According to the prime minister in June, “Asia has prospered because Pax Americana, which has held since the end of World War II” – and notions of the “Asian century” continuing apace without it are fanciful, at best. In a speech to the Atlantic Council in July, Lee put it this way: “We worry about two things. One, that you (the United States) may collide with the Chinese in Asia. And on the other hand you may decide that you have no stake in the region and leave us to our own defenses.” What Singapore thinks matters to the U.S. because […]

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Phillip Orchard
Phillip Orchard is an analyst at Geopolitical Futures. Prior to joining the company, Mr. Orchard spent nearly six years at Stratfor, working as an editor and writing about East Asian geopolitics. He’s spent more than six years abroad, primarily in Southeast Asia and Latin America, where he’s had formative, immersive experiences with the problems arising from mass political upheaval, civil conflict and human migration. Mr. Orchard holds a master’s degree in Security, Law and Diplomacy from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, where he focused on energy and national security, Chinese foreign policy, intelligence analysis, and institutional pathologies. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He speaks Spanish and some Thai and Lao.