From a historical perspective, when Chinese rulers became powerful, they may not have an expansionist policy.
But they have a tendency to exert their weight and get neighbouring countries to pay tributes to them.
The years of being abused by foreign forces may not have made them any wiser or more empathetic.
China believes it’s the middle kingdom (中国), somewhat the epicenter of the ancient world.
Even those who can conquer China will be subsumed into its culture. (Think Mongolian or Manchurian dynasties.)
On one hand, it’s a sense of self-efficacy and confidence – which is good for growth.
The flip side is a sense of superiority complex, which if not reign in properly, can wrought damages as seen in many dark chapters of Chinese history.
My take is that with the rise of a new era, China should be mindful that it’s at an inflection point and they should build stronger bridges, especially with neighbouring countries.
China needs stronger relationships to fulfill its OBOR blueprint and to strengthen its economy, especially with “all-weather” friends like Singapore.
In recently times, they’re sending negative signals through different channels and posturing in the hope of influencing Singapore to pivot towards them.
Meanwhile, we have to stay calm. We have to close ranks as one united people.
We have to send a clear signal that we take an objective, neutral, and principles-based position.
We support a world that is governed by laws, rules and principles and not by strength, might or force.
We encourage individuals, groups and organizations to support a rules-based world order for the good of humanity and the environment.
When China knows that our intentions are clear and our policies are for their good, we’ll be able to have a more stable, secure and sustainable relationship.
For example, when they want to hear genuine feedback about OBOR, they can count on us to offer them the truth, including hard and inconvenient truths.
We will not offer words to serve our own interests or words they want to hear.
We can also play a useful part in contributing to their economic growth.
It’s the strong economic growth that has has kept China relatively stable and intact.
Economic growth has neutralized social disorder and civil unrest, the bigger elephant in the room.
I hope this message will find a place in your heart.
By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.
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