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Good US-China ties vital to global security and prosperity, says PM Lee

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called on the United States to maintain a “stable and constructive” relationship with China, adding that good ties between the two superpowers will promote global security.

Good US-China ties vital to global security and prosperity, says PM Lee

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and US President Donald Trump give joint statements in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, October 23, 2017. Photo: Reuters

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called on the United States to maintain a “stable and constructive” relationship with China, adding that good ties between the two superpowers will promote global security.

Speaking at a joint press conference with President Donald Trump after both leaders held talks at the White House on Monday (Oct 23), he said that Singapore, like many other countries, watches US-China dynamics closely.

“It is the most important bilateral relationship in the world,” Mr Lee added. “I expressed (to Mr Trump) my hope that the US will maintain a stable and constructive relationship with China, engaging each other at the highest levels, building trust and establishing institutional mechanisms.”

He noted that China is the third largest export market for US goods and services. It is also the second largest market for American agricultural exports, including soybeans, grains, and cotton, as well as farming machinery.

"Good US-China ties will benefit the region and the world. They will enable countries in the Asia Pacific, including the US and China themselves, to enjoy regional stability, peace and prosperity,” said Mr Lee.

In recent years, Beijing and Washington have taken differing positions on the South China Sea territorial dispute, friction in bilateral trade, intellectual property disputes and North Korea’s nuclear ambition, among other issues.

These are expected to be high on the agenda when Mr Trump visits China next month. Recent reports have suggested that Mr Trump will pressure Chinese President Xi Jinping to do more to rein in North Korea when they meet in Beijing.

Mr Lee said he discussed the North Korean issue in his talks with Mr Trump, and reiterated Singapore's opposition to and condemnation of Pyongyang's recent provocations, including nuclear tests and missile launches.

“These pose a serious threat to regional and international peace and stability,” Mr Lee added, noting that he had shared with Mr Trump what Singapore has done to pressure and isolate Pyongyang, going beyond the United Nations Security Council's resolutions.

Examples of such measures by Singapore include the imposition of strict export controls over North Korean goods, and visa requirements against all of the North's nationals.

“But there is no easy and quick solution," Mr Lee pointed out. "Pressure is necessary, but so is dialogue. The US will need to work with others, including China, South Korea, Japan and Russia to resolve the issue.”

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