US-China rivalry need not be zero-sum game

China is a part of the region and a fast-growing world power, while the US has had a longstanding presence and significant interests in the region. PHOTO: AFP

While great power rivalry between the United States and China may be inevitable, it does not have to be a zero-sum game, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Both countries should abide by existing international norms and laws even as they compete for power and influence, he said, adding that this is a means of strengthening mutual trust and establishing appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms.

In an interview with Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao, which was published yesterday, Mr Heng said the US-China relationship is the most important set of bilateral ties in the world.

Tense relations now, as the world battles the Covid-19 pandemic, will only result in greater polarisation and damage, he added.

China is a part of the region and a fast-growing world power, while the US has had a longstanding presence and significant interests in the region.

And while the US is Singapore's largest foreign investor, China is Singapore's largest trading partner, Mr Heng said, noting that many other countries in the region also have close ties with both powers.

The US should draw up corresponding strategies in response to China's growing power and international influence, he said.

On the other hand, as China's economic and military strength grows, it has to adjust and integrate into the rules-based international system and take into consideration the interests and concerns of other countries, he added.

The impact of US-China competition in areas such as trade, technology and security will shape the international order for years to come, Mr Heng noted.

In particular, their cooperation will affect the world's ability to tackle issues such as climate change, nuclear proliferation and the spread of infectious diseases, he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2020, with the headline US-China rivalry need not be zero-sum game. Subscribe