Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Lee Kuan Yew's style of governance bears lessons for China: Chinese media

BEIJING - Amid mourning in China for Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, some Chinese media outlets are citing his legacy to justify China's model of development and foreign policy.

In an editorial on Tuesday titled "Lee Kuan Yew's legacy meaningful for China", the China Daily said his style of governance of integrating Western and Eastern cultures bears lessons for China.

It described Singapore as "an example of how Eastern culture, Chinese culture in particular, can be successfully integrated with Western culture for a prosperous nation".

"Reviewing what this man has done for his own country, we should have more confidence in sticking to our own culture and philosophy. But we should also never forget that he had the vision to learn from the advanced cultures," it added.

China has often resisted calls to copy Western-style governance or values such as liberal democracy and insisted on its own model of development with what it calls  "Chinese characteristics".

Many here find resonance in the "Singapore model", with key traits such as a dominant one-party political system, meritocracy tilted towards elitist rule, strict rule of law and open economy.

The Global Times tabloid -  an offshoot of the People's Daily, mouthpiece of the Communist Party - also hailed China's "maturity" in maintaining good ties with Singapore though the latter is also courted by major powers and neighbouring countries, a reference to the Republic's close ties to western countries, especially the United States.

"When Lee's death was announced, the Chinese media gave both prominent coverage of Lee and condolences to Singapore.

"It validated the glorious life of this 91-year-old man, and also revealed the growing maturity of Chinese people's views in this era of opening-up," it added in an editorial.

Elsewhere in China, the reaction to Mr Lee's death is largely focused on celebrating his life and achievements in developing Singapore into a First World economy and his contributions to Sino-Singapore relations.

The mourning extended to Chinese counties, with locals in Mr Lee's ancestral hometown in the Hakka village of Dabu in southern Guangdong province holding their own commemorative events from Monday after learning of  his death on Monday.

A man named Li Wenyin and described as Mr Lee's paternal cousin was quoted in a report by Hong Kong-based daily Wen Wei Po as saying: "He's the pride of our village. I feel proud every time I talk about him to others."

In Beijing, about 170 Singaporeans and members of the public turned up at the Singapore embassy on Tuesday  to sign the condolence books.

There were also dignitaries such as foreign envoys and Chinese officials such as  Mr Chen Deming, head of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, a semi-official agency in charge of cross-strait relations.

Another Chinese official was influential thinker Zheng Bijian, who coined the "peaceful rise of China" theory and had been  a  personal friend of Mr Lee's since the 1980s.

He described Mr Lee as a world-class politician and strategist with "an open and broad global perspective and also a positive strategic mindset".

"As we enter the 20th year of the 21st century, we need to expand our global perspective and strategic mindset. We need to continue Mr Lee Kuan Yew's legacy by advancing and opening up. This is the responsibility of the succeeding generations," he told Singapore media.

kianbeng@sph.com.sg

 Additional reporting by Esther Teo