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Rachel Au-Yong
Monday, May 26, 2014

Singapore

Moscow honours LKY with doctorate

The Straits Times | Rachel Au-Yong | Monday, May 26, 2014

Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew has received an honorary doctorate from the Russian government for promoting relations between the federation and the rest of the world.

Singapore's ambassador to Russia, Ms Lim Kheng Hua, accepted the Honorary Doctor of the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs title for Mr Lee in Moscow on Thursday, said a statement from Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She also gave a speech on his behalf.

In the speech, Mr Lee said that Singapore and Russia enjoy stable and cordial relations, even if they do not always see eye-to-eye on every international issue.

But both countries have in common a need to adapt to a rapidly evolving international system.

The international arena is changing with the rise of China, and he said the developments in East Asia would affect Russia too.

"For the last 200 years or so, the international system was largely shaped by the West," he said. "The Western-shaped international system is now in the throes of profound change."

The future is uncertain, but key in a new world order is the relationship between the United States and China, he noted.

"Washington and Beijing are groping towards a new modus vivendi," he said, referring to an arrangement between countries to co-exist peacefully.

This will not be easy, he added, with political, military, economic and even psychological challenges.

While both countries have expressed the need for a stable relationship with each other, it is not clear if they mean the same thing.

"China will not meekly acquiesce in the perpetuation of an international system that led to what it calls 'a hundred years of humiliation'," he said.

This refers to the period of intervention by Western powers and Japan in China between 1839 and 1949.

"When the US and China eventually establish a new equilibrium, the rest of the world will take dressing from it. For now, US-China relations already set the tone for East Asia," he said.

This will affect Russia, as a large part of the country lies in East Asia.

"Russia, therefore, cannot but be affected by these developments and must find a new modus vivendi with China too," he added.

Mr Lee received another Russian top honour last year. The "Order of Honour" was conferred on him by Russian President Vladimir Putin when he turned 90 last September.

rachelay@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 24, 2014.
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