Singapore's elder-statesman Lee Kuan Yew does “not think there will be a conflict between China and India” and between China and the United States at any time in the foreseeable future.
In a series of interviews to a group of journalists from The Straits Times here, released by Mr. Lee himself in the form of a book, he addressed, among a variety of subjects, serious issues concerning China, India, and the U.S., collectively characterised as “giants”. The book, Lee Kuan Yew Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going, was released late last week.
“China and India cannot fight a big war because they both have nuclear weapons,” said Mr. Lee, noting that even the long Himalayan border between the two countries was not worth a fight. And, “what are the Americans going to fight China over?” At the same time, the Chinese, in his view, “need not fight” the U.S. for “control” over East Asia. “Slowly and gradually [the Chinese] will expand their economic ties with [the other countries] in East Asia and offer them their market of 1.3 billion consumers.”
Cautioning against the tendency to “talk about India and China in the same breath”, he said New Delhi “is a bigger player”, nonetheless, “than the whole of Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] put together”. India “is growing at about two-thirds the rate of China”. Despite this, “they [the Indians] are a counterweight [to China] in the Indian Ocean”. In this overall context, he would want India to be “part of the Southeast Asia balance of forces”.
On the rising profile of ethnic Indians in Singapore, Mr. Lee said: “We are now getting high-quality Indians [as new citizens of the City-State]. … It is stupid to reject them — IT specialists, banking specialists. And, they are going to have bright kids. They [the ethnic Indians] might be nine per cent [of Singapore's population today]. They used to be seven per cent. …. My feeling is the trend [of new influx] will last many years because the Indian cities will not catch up with Singapore for a long time.”