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Deng’s patience a model for US in South China Sea: Kissinger

SINGAPORE — The United States should model its attempts at defusing Beijing’s territorial disputes in the South China Sea on the patient methods typified by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, said Dr Henry Kissinger, former President Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State.

SINGAPORE — The United States should model its attempts at defusing Beijing’s territorial disputes in the South China Sea on the patient methods typified by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, said Dr Henry Kissinger, former President Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State.

China and the US should “remove the urgency of the debate” as they embark on a dialogue, Dr Kissinger, 91, told reporters in Singapore.

The US diplomat was the architect of Nixon’s historic trip to China in 1972 that led to the opening of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

“Deng Xiaoping dealt with some of his problems by saying not every problem needs to be solved in the existing generation,” said Dr Kissinger. “Let’s perhaps wait for another generation, but let’s not make it worse.”

America has assured its allies in the region that it will back them against China’s claims to about four-fifths of the sea.

Beijing has ratcheted up pressure on some members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and accelerated reclamation work on reefs in waters crisscrossed by territorial claims from Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, the Philippines and Malaysia.

Fresh dialogue may take place in America as early as September, when US President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet. The world’s two largest economies seek to boost cooperation and smooth tensions, including territorial disputes between China and its neighbours.

China attaches “great importance” to relations with Washington and wants to see enhanced cooperation to better manage “differences”, Mr Xi told Dr Kissinger when they met in Beijing on March 17.

Dr Kissinger was in Singapore for the funeral of the city’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died last Monday at 91.

The US diplomat joined hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans visiting Mr Lee’s body as it lay in state in Parliament House.

“The world is a better place (because of) Mr Lee Kuan Yew,” Dr Kissinger said. “He taught us about the way Asians think about problems and explained to us what development means in a practical sense.” BLOOMBERG

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