Lawrence Wong on US-China rivalry: Singapore does not choose countries, we chose principles 

SINGAPORE: During the question and answer portion at a forum this week, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong was asked to elaborate on his statement that Singapore’s “policy is neither pro-US nor pro-China.”

“Singapore does not choose countries. We chose principles and one key principle is that of territorial integrity and sovereignty, as well as the freedom for countries not to be attacked by others as enshrined in the United Nations Charter,” said Mr Wong at the Nikkei Forum 28th Future of Asia: “Leveraging Asia’s power to confront global challenges” on Thursday (May 25).

Mr Wong tackled several topics in his speech concerning the challenges that Asian nations face, including peace and security in the region, climate change, and economic prosperity.

And while acknowledging that “it is quite clear we are entering a more dangerous and troubled world” for which there are no easy solutions, he underlined that there are “reasons for optimism.”

“Asia’s dynamism, shaped by its diverse cultures, resilience, and adaptability, offer hope. And we can also take heart that the countries in the region share a deep commitment to collaboration and a common interest to work together,” he added.

DPM Wong was then asked about Singapore’s neither pro-US nor pro-China policy, with the United States asking ASEAN “to choose either democracy or autocracy.”

The questioner also pointed out that Singapore has not been invited to the US-hosted Democracy Summit for two successive years and asked Mr Wong for his opinion on this as well.

“Singapore does not choose countries,” Mr Wong replied, adding, “We chose principles and one key principle is that of territorial integrity and sovereignty… Over the years, Singapore has consistently chosen and adhered to this fundamental principle. Whenever conflicts or issues arise, you can look at our track record, we have consistently adopted this stance and most recently, of course, when Russia invaded Ukraine.

We hope that through our consistent actions, everyone knows what Singapore stands for. You may disagree with us and that is fine because there will always be differences in views between countries. But through our consistent, predictable, and principled actions, we hope that we can be a more reliable and trusted partner for countries everywhere around the world.”

As for the non-invite to the Democracy Summit, the DPM had this to say: “We know who we are – the facts about our democracy speak for themselves. We are comfortable with who we are, and we really do not need external parties or external events to validate our status.” /TISG

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