Singapore warns of U.S.-China ‘escalatory spiral’

A continued lack of strategic trust between the United States and China could create an “escalating spiral” leading to a potential setback between the two nations at a time when tensions are rising in Taiwan, according to Singapore’s foreign minister. .

“The key missing ingredient in this relationship, from a dispassionate third country perspective, is that there is a lack of strategic trust between the United States and China,” Vivian Balakrishnan said Friday in New York at a event organized by the Asia Society. , according to the prepared remarks. “I think the ultimate focal point of this is the Taiwan Strait, which is the reddest of Beijing’s red lines.”

Balakrishnan said he has observed on four separate trips to China in the past year that “attitudes have become more assertive” there, with strong and growing nationalism and more “muscular” actions to defend international interests.

“As China’s strategic and economic influence has grown, so has its sense of vulnerability,” as communist regimes must respond to “the anxieties and zeitgeist of their own societies,” he said. .

Other highlights of Balakrishnan’s speech:

  • “There can be no good outcome for us in Asia if our countries are forced into two fields with a line between them.”
  • On the Indo-Pacific economic framework, he said he “very carefully avoids any mention of market access. But anyway, to the extent that it reflects American recognition that there are opportunities in the Pacific and continued engagement, that’s positive. Singapore will stand fully shoulder to shoulder in this endeavour. But more needs to be done, that’s the message.”
  • “Foreign policy and trade policy begin at home. You must embark on the necessary reform and investment in your domestic capacity. You need to build social and political capital and then engage and re-engage the world with confidence. That’s my argument.”

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