We are the product of our environment. We are steeped in Western ideals of democracy and the market economy. We consumed disproportionate amounts of Western popular culture in our formative years, amid an isolationist China in the past.
Now that times have changed, it takes concerted effort on our part to make sense of all the geopolitical change around us (Beware of US' influence operations, too, by Mr Jacob Tan Teck Lee; July 2).
No one can claim to be unbiased, as we have entrenched world views that are hard to change.
The past may not be a good predictor of the future.
The United States, which was a proponent of free trade and bastion of freedom, has turned inwards. While it recedes, China is rising and has expanded its influence far and wide.
This is disconcerting to many, as we are unsure of whether a new big giant, which has come to the fore in such rapidity and size, would dislodge the harmony that this region has enjoyed thus far.
When two giants feud so close to home, it accentuates this fear of disharmony. Nations may be forced to take sides. Asean's unity may be threatened.
While events play out, with conflicting signals at times, it is very difficult to form a new world view. The profusion of news media does not help either.
Thus, we should not be too quick to jump to conclusions. Prudence and being friendly to all will serve us well.
Lee Teck Chuan