Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao to attend state funeral for Mr Lee Kuan Yew

China will send its Vice-President Li Yuanchao to attend founding Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's state funeral in the Republic, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying on Friday.

China this week had been vague about its representative, and would only say that a "Chinese leader" would be attending the event on Sunday, without giving names.

Hot favourites touted were Executive Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, who is co-chair of a high-level bilateral mechanism with Singapore, and also Mr Li, a Politburo member who had worked closely with the Republic in his previous position as organisation chief.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was also floated as a possibility among netizens and analysts, given that he is no stranger to Mr Lee, having met him in the early 1990s, though the likelihood was deemed low as no Chinese president has ever attended an overseas funeral.

China is among the last of the major powers to announce its representative, which is shaping up to be a gathering of world and regional leaders.

They will include premiers Tony Abbott, Narendra Modi, Hun Sen and Prayuth Chan-ocha from Australia, India, Cambodia and Thailand respectively, along with presidents Thein Sein, Joko Widodo and Park Geun Hye from Myanmar, Indonesia and South Korea respectively.

The Japanese media reported on Thursday too that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was making plans to attend the state funeral.

The US delegation will be led by former president Bill Clinton, which will include its ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar, former ambassador to Singapore Steven Green, former assistant to the president for national security affairs Thomas Donilon, and American statesman Henry Kissinger, a close friend of Mr Lee's.

kianbeng@sph.com.sg