Photo of Lee Hsien Loong and Xi Jin Ping from Ministry of Information

Speaking to media reporters at the G20 in Germany yesterday (July 13), Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that he has to stand up against big countries to protect his own interests:

“We are under no illusions. This is a dangerous world, there are countries big and small – Singapore is small,” PM Lee told Singapore reporters. “And we have to take the world as it is, at the same time we have to protect our interests, and do the best for ourselves we can in the world. I think these two are complementary, they are not contradictory, we have to be aware of the realities but that does not mean surrendering ourselves to our fates. I think if we don’t stand up and be counted, you cannot lie low and hope that nobody will notice you. And I think that’s how Singapore must conduct our foreign policy.”

PM Lee Hsien Loong was notably sidelined at the G20 summit as US President Donald Trump mistook him for Indonesia President Joko Widodo, while China President Xi Jin Ping did not make any media statement regarding PM Lee. Through his state-controlled media, PM Lee reportedly poured praises about diplomatic relationships with US and China in his single-sided media statement from the propaganda Ministry of Communication and Information, with no collaboration from other parties:

“We have a broad relationship. There are issues that come out from time to time. We deal with them in a mature way and we move ahead. We are not at odds with China, and I think China finds it useful also to be friendly with Singapore so that’s a good basis on which to work.”

PM Lee also dismissed the possibilities of China and Russia becoming world leaders:

“This new (US) administration is different. They put US first, and they put less weight on the US’ responsibility for what people call ‘global public goods’, which means security, being the world’s policeman, upholding open free trade because trade is good for other countries, and so on. So whether another country can step up and perform that role is not so clear.”