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Russia-China cooperation "good for the world": PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong comments on current events at the Nikkei International Conference on the Future of Asia.

TOKYO: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says the recently concluded Russia-China energy accord will benefit both sides, and this cooperation is "good for the world".

He made this point when taking questions on current events after his keynote speech at the 19th Nikkei International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo on Thursday (May 22).

Said PM Lee "Russia today is not a superpower. It's still a nuclear power. But it's not a superpower. It's Russia, and not the Soviet Union. US-China relations have deep relationships.They're not at loggerheads with one another. So I see it as not unexpected.

"Both sides will benefit from it. It gives Russia revenue. It gives China energy resources. The balance is good for the world that they're cooperating, rather than having tensions along their borders."

Prime Minister Lee was also asked about Japan's attempt to exercise collective self-defence amidst a build-up of tensions in Northeast Asia.

He said it's something he can understand. "The war is now almost 70 years in the past and you want to move beyond that. I think that in Southeast Asia where Japan has made accommodations and settled war history with countries, we will watch with some objectivity and detachment.

"But with other countries, particularly in China and South Korea, where this history has not really been put behind you, there'll be considerable reactions. You have to expect that."

Mr Lee said he hoped the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement can be concluded this year: "After the midterm US elections, we don't know what Congress will look like. Then they are into the next presidential election. The US will have other preoccupations, so we're trying very hard to complete this. Japan and the US want to settle this. But the question is: Are they willing to make the decisions to settle this?"

In response to another question, Prime Minister Lee said Singapore is studying nuclear energy carefully - a topic close to the hearts of the Japanese.

He said Singapore needs to understand the safety aspects of the issue, but added that it's not practical for the country to have a nuclear plant, because of space constraints.

"It (would be) as if we have nuclear plants on Tokyo Bay," he said.

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