Urgent for S'pore to develop pool of China experts

The Chinese national flag flies outside a hotel in central Beijing, China, on May 15, 2019.
The Chinese national flag flies outside a hotel in central Beijing, China, on May 15, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

Many have likened the current spat between the United States and China to a new Cold War.

However, the two are starkly different.

During the Cold War, US and USSR trade was negligible and their economic strengths were far apart.

They were different ideologically and competed for global geopolitical influence, while the rest of the world was caught between the two nuclear powers.

Today, it is impossible to decouple the economies of the US and China.

The latter has caught up in record time to become the world's second-largest economy and soon, many reckon, it will be the world's largest.

With its deep pockets, China is extending its influence far and wide. It competes not just on the economic front, but also in the areas of military, science, technology and space.

Today, there are more than two nuclear powers. The prospect of a Cold War turning hot proves more ominous.

As we fall into a new equilibrium, we must reconcile with the fact that the world we grew up in is slipping away.

Unless the rest of us are united and have the wherewithal to preserve the old, we must change to fit the new reality (Singapore, global community should step in now in US-China dispute, by Dr Patrick Liew Siow Gian, May 18).

Thus, it is imperative and urgent to develop our pool of China experts. This knowledge can be drawn upon by businesses, institutions and even the Government.

Our scholars should be sent to world-class universities in China for immersion in its language, history, culture and way of life.

We should also garner a deep understanding of the country's social and mental make-up.

This change in vantage point will facilitate our understanding of it. Until such time that we do, we will remain clueless as to why it acts the way it does.

Lee Teck Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2019, with the headline 'Urgent for S'pore to develop pool of China experts'. Print Edition | Subscribe