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The dynamic between US and China

Arnaud Bertrand

George Yeo, one of the most consummate statesmen in Asia (Singapore Cabinet member for 21 years!) is always a mandatory listen.

Here he explains the worrying dynamic between the US and China. He has by far the best understanding I`ve come across.

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George Yeo on the dynamic between US and China

George Yeo, one of the most consummate statesmen in Asia (Singapore Cabinet member for 21 years!) is always a mandatory listen. Here he explains the worrying dynamic between the US and China. He has by far the best understanding I`ve come across.

To him "China knows that time is on its side. It should not fight now if it can fight later and it will not be necessary to fight later because by that time it will be strong enough to prevent a war from happening".

But the issue is that "when the US makes moves against China, China cannot show weakness because if it shows weakness then the Americans will do more against China. So it has to be firm, but it should not escalate.

If the US wants to push China into a win-lose position, China will say

I prefer win-win but let it be lose-lose and let`s stay lose-lose until you, in your wisdom, come to the conclusion that we are both better off being in the win-win quadrant.

Yeo sees US politicians as universally confrontational on China, with many wanting a war. He sees 3 strands:

3 strands

  1. who want to provoke China into war, if possible, because they think that if war with China is inevitable then it`s better to have it earlier rather than later
  2. those who feel that China should be moved down a peg or two because it`s getting too arrogant
  3. there are others who feel that if we do nothing they`re going to overtake us and we can`t allow that to happen

When the host asks him what`s the end game of a war with a nuclear power, Yeo replies: "Before we reach Armageddon, there is such a thing called `proxy war`". Meaning of course that the goal is to use Taiwan (and most importantly the people there) as a proxy to fight China. Yeo says a key reason why the US wants to fight China is because of projection, they assume China will behave like the West:

Many Americans think that when China becomes strong it will behave like an imperial power, the way the Western powers and Japan behave when they are powerful. That they will start taking over other people`s territory, [etc.] I think the Chinese know that there is no profit in this.

He`s been very consistent in saying that China knows "there is no profit in interfering in other people`s affairs"

Lastly, he also talked about Hong Kong, a city where he used to live. He says,

I was frankly quite disgusted at the way the Western media were lionizing the violence. It was sickening. I was relieved when the National Security Law (NSL) was introduced.

To him the NSL, which outlaws separatism, "is entirely reasonable because all countries have that". In the long run, he believes it`s better for Hong Kong because it "ensures that beyond 2047 there`ll still be One Country Two Systems, it`s likely to continue indefinitely". Obviously what he says will come as shocking to those who form their understanding of the world via Western media. But it`s how many - if not most - people in Asia view things. The shocking thing is that these views - right or wrong - never transpire in the Western media bubble.

Summary

Arnaud gives us an idea of how other Asian countries might view the development of the US-China relationship through a summary of the words of George Yeo.

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