US-China competition, cooperation will have ‘great bearing’ on world: Tharman

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BEIJING – China and the United States need to find a way to combine competition with cooperation because their rivalry has repercussions throughout the rest of the world, said Singapore’s Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Sunday.

“(The) US-China tension and the way it is managed will clearly have great bearing on the global economy, great bearing on all nations,” he told an audience of global business leaders and officials at the China Development Forum (CDF) in Beijing.

Calling this an era where there is competition on a scale that has “never been seen before”, he said this should also be a time when the world’s two largest economies should cooperate to address the current challenges facing humanity: climate change, a global water crisis, the loss of biodiversity, as well as traditional challenges such as global terrorism and nuclear proliferation. 

Relations between Washington and Beijing have worsened in recent years, beginning with a bruising trade war during the Trump administration that has since evolved into a technological arms race, with the US choking off Chinese access to cutting-edge technology.

China, meanwhile, accuses the US of interfering with what it says are its domestic politics, including the self-ruling island of Taiwan that Beijing sees as its own. 

Mr Tharman said: “How the US and China are able to combine competition – including perfectly legitimate, economic competition – with the need for cooperation is going to require considerable strategic ambition and skill. 

“But it will matter to the US; it will matter to China; and very importantly, it will matter to the world.”

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