PM Lee positive about Asia's prospects

PM Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday urged countries to develop constructive relations with one another in a multi-dimensional way

TOKYO - The world's balance of power may be undergoing significant change, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is "cautiously optimistic" the transition will be managed wisely and prudently.

He expressed this confidence as he analysed big power relations on Thursday at an annual Nikkei conference in Tokyo, on the future of Asia.

"Asia's future is bright," he said. "Countries are striving for growth and prosperity, to improve the lives of their people.

"We are building new institutions for regional cooperation. We are working to maintain a stable, peaceful regional order, even as the strategic balance shifts."

But there are also risks.

Referring to the fears of China's rise, the possibility of miscalculation in the complex US-China relationship and the many disputes brewing between Asian countries, Mr Lee urged nations not to view international relations through an "us versus them" lens.

Speaking at one point to a Japanese participant who said he supported a hypothetical plan by China's neighbours to encircle it, Mr Lee said: "I would be very careful about saying, 'Let's make a friendship amongst all the countries which are frightened of China'. I don't think that is a constructive and helpful approach.

"I think, let's all make friends and develop constructive relations with one another in a multi-dimensional way."

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