Read My Lips

United States, China, India and the Future

Do other countries perceive the growth of China and India as a positive development?

Coming together or breaking apart?


The emergence of China and India presents a major challenge to the rest of the world. China and India in a few decades will become the world's largest economies — significantly altering the international landscape. In this Read My Lips feature, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong argues that both the United States and the rest of Asia should see their rise not as a curse, but as a blessing.

What challenges are India and China presenting for Singapore?

“We are operating under the assumption that where we are today, the water level will be rising in five to ten years from now. So we have to move ahead.”

(Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, July 2005)

Do countries in the region perceive the growth of China and India as a threat?

“Asian countries see the emergence of China and India as a major plus. It means fiercer competition, but it also opens up many opportunities. China’s export industries now rely significantly on materials and components supplied from other Asian countries. China’s growing domestic market is also pulling in imports from other countries.”

(July 2005)

How is China dealing with this increased reliance on its neighbors?

“China has been skillfully deploying soft power to engage the region and cooperate with its neighbors on a win-win basis.”

(July 2005)

How has the recent tension over Taiwan changed the regional landscape?

“The stakes have been raised all round — which paradoxically has had a stabilizing effect.”

(July 2005)

What effect will China and India's prosperity have on the growth of the rest of the region?

“Together, China and India are twin engines giving the whole region an extra boost.”

(July 2005)

What about the United States?

“America should also see the emergence of these two giants as a positive development.”

(July 2005)

How does the tension between the United States and China factor in?

“Lately, U.S.-China relations have been troubled by issues like the trade imbalance, textile exports and CNOOC’s bid for Unocal. The world is watching how the United States deals with them.”

(July 2005)

Can either China or India be the guarantor of stability in Asia?

“Neither China nor India can perform the security role of the United States in Asia for many years to come. Hence nearly all Asian countries welcome the U.S. presence — though some are more ready to acknowledge this explicitly than others.”

(July 2005)

What is your perspective on the war against terror?

“We cannot defeat terrorism through military operations alone. Ultimately, the fate of extremists who claim to act in the name of Islam will have to be decided by Muslims themselves — by reference to their own values and interests.”

(July 2005)

Are many Muslims in a difficult situation when it comes to speaking out against terror?

“Unfortunately, many moderate Muslims worldwide are reluctant to condemn and disown the extremists, lest they be regarded as supporting the enemy.”

(July 2005)

What is the right strategy for success?

“With the right policies, the United States can still reach out to moderate, mainstream Muslims who form the vast majority of the Muslims in this world.”

(July 2005)

Given these challenges, will the United States respond effectively to the opportunities arising in Asia?

“America has always been a powerful beacon, inspiring the world with the ideal of the equal dignity and worth of humanity and the promise of a peaceful and benevolent power.”

(July 2005)

And finally, what does this all mean for the developing world?

“If you are the same as you were 500 years ago, people will come and visit you. If you are the same as 25 years ago, you have to change.”

(July 2005)

Adapted from Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s speech “Engaging a New Asia,” at the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council in Washington D.C. on July 12, 2005. For the full text, click here.

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