SINGAPORE: During the Asia Future Summit 2023’s Closing Dialogue held on 5 October, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Ma Ying-jeou, the former Taiwan President had exchanged their view on mainland China-Taiwan Cross-Strait relations.
Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou stressed the significance of fostering dialogue and communication between both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
In contrast, PM Lee emphasized that dialogue should not merely remain at the conversational level; it should lead to more than just talks.
“But from dialogue you must move if not to meeting of minds, at least to a mutual understanding of each other’s positions and some understanding of how to take positive steps forward,” PM Lee told Mr Ma.
Former Taiwan President highlights necessity of Cross-Strait dialogue facilitation
Mr Ma, responding to PM Lee’s remarks on the U.S.-China-Taiwan situation, emphasized the importance of facilitating dialogue and communication between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.
He stressed that encouraging Taiwan and mainland China to engage in dialogue and find a solution was crucial not only for the region but also for preventing a collision between China and the United States.
He pointed out that Singapore had played a role as a meeting place for cross-strait discussions in the past.
“Singapore twice played the meeting place of the two sides, once in 1993 with Wang Daohan and Koo Chen-fu. In 2015, Xi Jinping and myself also in Singapore. ”
“Now it is a very crucial time to the two sides. If Taiwan and mainland China could work out something, I think the collision between China and US may be avoided, ” Mr Ma highlighted.
He called on those concerned about the situation to support and advocate for such dialogues, inviting conference attendees to join him in this effort.
“I hope for those of you who are concerned about the situation, not just Asia, but also the world to encourage Taiwan and mainland China to meet, to have a dialogue and to try to find out a solution. ”
PM Lee highlights the importance of moving beyond dialogue
PM Lee concurred with Ma’s emphasis on dialogue but added that it was crucial for the two sides to progress beyond talks.
He stressed that dialogue alone is not enough; they must strive for a mutual understanding of each other’s positions and find ways to take positive steps forward.
“We were very happy on two occasions to play host in Singapore. If the circumstances dictate further meetings in future, we will be very happy to be the party sitting there providing the room and pouring the tea.”
PM Lee stresses extreme caution to prevent escalation
During the closing dialogue, PM Lee addressed questions about the Taiwan factor in U.S.-China relations and the desire for the status quo among most Taiwanese people due to an upcoming election.
Fu Fang Jie, an SMU Professor, asked PM Lee for his opinion on the sustainability of the status quo and his advice for future Taiwanese leaders.
In response, PM Lee explained that the status quo depends on the concept of One China, with the 1992 Consensus playing a recent role.
“What exactly it is is open to discussion, but it is called the 1992 consensus and it worked. And it is no longer the basis on which Cross-Strait relations are being conducted. And how to find a way forward from that is a challenge. ”
PM Lee said is not directed solely at Taiwanese leaders but to all parties involved in the Cross-Strait situation.
He emphasizes the importance of extreme caution to prevent any inadvertent escalation towards a perilous situation, which could result in misunderstandings or mishaps.
PM Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the potential dangers and complexities surrounding the Taiwan Strait issue and the U.S.-China-Taiwan dynamic. He used the example of the 2001 EP-3 incident (also known as the Hainan Island Incident), where a collision between a U.S. EP-3 aircraft and a Chinese fighter jet resulted in a diplomatic crisis.
“It took several weeks of very difficult discussions and delicate diplomacy to get over that, to have a form of words for the US to say they regret what happened and to get their aeroplane and their serviceman back,” PM Lee added.
PM Lee cautions against escalation in U.S.-China-Taiwan relations
PM Lee emphasized that similar incidents could still occur today and might not be as readily resolved.
“Can it be resolved as readily? Not at all clear. It may spiral off in any number of directions. So the dangers are there. Each little step you take, and I would say each time somebody makes a little move, the other side makes another little move. ”
PM Lee acknowledged that the situation involves the U.S., China, and Taiwan, with each reacting to the others, creating a dynamic that no single party fully controls.
He emphasized the need to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control, as even small missteps could have significant consequences.
” You may think you are safe. You take a half-step wrong, and you may find yourself on a cliff.”
PM Lee: Avoid framing Taiwan issue as democracy vs autocracy, warning of escalating tensions
Earlier, responding to questions from the floor, PM Lee underscored the significance of the “One China” policy, which is the basis for most countries’ recognition of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and their informal relations with Taiwan.
He argues that changing this fundamental international understanding could lead to dangerous consequences.
“If we start thinking of Taiwan as an analogue of Ukraine — a member of the United Nations, which is Ukraine — an independent sovereign country and one which therefore deserves to be defended because it is on the good side and the others are on the wrong side — China is on the wrong side — I think you are changing a very fundamental basis of the international understanding, and it will have very dangerous consequences.”
He further cautioned against framing the Taiwan issue as a democracy versus autocracy struggle, as this could exacerbate tensions.
PM Lee also emphasized the importance of third countries maintaining stable and constructive relations with both the United States and China.
He suggested that it’s possible for countries to do business with China while also keeping strong ties with the U.S. This approach helps avoid a situation where either superpower perceives a global coalition forming against it.
He acknowledges that China’s growing influence and global presence are significant factors in today’s world. He stresses that accommodating this changing role and fostering cooperation between China and the rest of the world is crucial for international stability.
Pritam Singh: PAP Govt adopts WP proposals in Budget 2024
Leong Mun Wai: Transforming social assistance with PSP’s empowerment approach
Singapore to amend GST Act after Govt agencies’ errors in fee charges
Leong Mun Wai advocates for public asset disclosure among key office holders
Hazel Poa: Majority relying on Govt grants for living costs signals unhealthy situation
Man set himself on fire at Israeli Embassy in Washington protesting Gaza genocide
A calculated exit? Leong’s strategic resignation unpacked
M’sian ex-lawyer speaks out for Singaporean parents over MOE’s controversial CCE lesson
S’porean streamer Kiaraakitty admits staging egg attack in Taiwan
Netizens scrutinise MOE’s approaches to address Gaza conflict in CCE lesson
Chan Chun Sing limits his Instagram comments amid MOE’s Israel-Hamas education backlash
Chan Chun Sing: MOE’s Israel-Hamas education to foster multiracial cohesion reflection
Politics4 days ago
Leong Mun Wai steps down as PSP Secretary-General over POFMA directive received
Featured2 weeks ago
PA surveys community & govt confidence amid pending general election
Singapore3 days ago
Gilbert Goh challenges MOE on Israel-Hamas classroom narrative
Comments2 weeks ago
PAP Marcus Loh accuses WP’s MP of alleged dishonesty on debate about reserves
Civil Society2 weeks ago
Singaporeans stand firm in support for Palestine amidst police scrutiny
Singapore1 week ago
Kenneth Jeyaretnam issued 6th POFMA direction over Ridout Road saga
Civil Society2 weeks ago
At least 9 individuals summoned by police over Palestine solidarity activities on 2 Feb
Community2 weeks ago
Connectivity struggles in Tengah town prompt online user discussion