Photo of Lee Hsien Loong from CNA

In his May Day speech yesterday (May 1), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong criticised US President Donald Trump for only knowing how to talk tough and, unlike the Obama administration, viewing trade as “win-lose”.

“Where previously the US took a multilateral, win-win attitude towards trade, it is now talking tough on trade and focusing on bilateral trade balances — targeting countries one by one. It views trade as win-lose. If you win, that means I must have lost something. If the US has a trade surplus with another country, that is as it should be. But if the US has a trade deficit with another country, then that country must be playing unfair. With China, the US has a huge deficit and now it wants to sell more to China, not to buy less.”

The Singapore dictator Prime Minister then warn Donald Trump that “talking tough” will sour relationships and cause everyone to lose:

“But if you talk too tough and as a result if you sour the trust and the relationship and the cooperation, then that is a lose-lose outcome. For now, the other countries want to stay open to trade, and world leaders are saying the right things. But the situation could sour quickly once they get into a tit-for-tat fight.”

PM Lee Hsien Loong has earlier boasted that he had a “good phone call” with Donald Trump and that he has been invited to the White House later in the year. It is understood that the US administration wants Singapore to play a more active role in the military preparation against North Korea.

In the ASEAN meeting held at Philippines two days ago, Lee Hsien Loong has earlier criticised North Korea for being a “grave threat to regional peace, security and stability:

“Singapore is deeply concerned by the series of deliberate and provocative actions by the DPRK, including its two nuclear tests in January and September last year, and the successive ballistic missile launches this year, including one earlier today.”