The rise of Asia will bring uncertainty over the next 50 years, but the odds are that the future will be peaceful, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday night.
"Over the next 50 years, the tectonic shifts will be much bigger than anything we have experienced so far," Mr Lee told students at the Nanyang Technological University auditorium.
It is a clear trend that "Asia will rise, and I hope Singapore with it", said the Prime Minister in his speech, adding that technology will change in unpredictable ways, and its impact on society, together with globalisation will grow.
Asia will play a much wider role in world affairs and the gap between itself and the United States and Europe will narrow, though the latter two regions will still be among the most advanced economies, said Mr Lee.
For example, China and India's continued development will carry along the rest of the region, including Singapore. The region's influence in the world also will grow as its culture and lifestyle spreads through movies and music such as the popular song "Gangnam style".
"All this depends on one critical assumption: for the next 50 years, we have peace. We don't have war in Asia, and in the world," Mr Lee emphasised.
The rise of Asia will change the global strategic balance and have "major repercussions" on the world economy, global issues like climate change and international relations, especially between China and the United States.
Though history has shown that such major transitions have traditionally been full of conflict, Mr Lee said he was hopeful that "all the major powers know what went wrong the last time" and want to avoid conflict this time.
This rise will be "very challenging", said Mr Lee, citing current frictions in the South China Sea over maritime rights, and frictions over the Senkaku-Diaoyu islands as "relatively small examples of the problems which can arise".
"I hope all countries manage them peacefully, wisely and with restraint. Net net - the odds are that the future will be peaceful, but it is not a certainty. If you ask me to bet, I will bet on peace, but it's not a certainty. We're in for uncertain but exciting times," he said.