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China not seeking to top US: Lee Kuan Yew
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 19, 2011

China is in no rush to overtake the United States as the world's leading power but the two Pacific nations will need to find ways to work together, Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew said.

Lee, who built Singapore from a sleepy port into a global economic center, was visiting Washington where Tuesday he received an award named for Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre, where the Civil War president was assassinated in 1865.

In his acceptance speech, Lee said that historically wars have broken out when a rising nation -- such as China in the current era -- emerges to challenge the supremacy of the incumbent power.

"This is no longer possible when both China and the US have nuclear armaments," Lee said, according to a transcript released Wednesday.

"It is my belief that the Chinese are in no hurry to displace the US as the number one power in the world and to carry the burden that is part and parcel of that position," he said.

Lee said that China was "quite comfortable" in institutions such as the Group of 20 major economies, "where their views will be taken seriously and economic interests safeguarded, but the responsibility is shared amongst 20 member states."

"In addition, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, its broad strategic interests at the UN are safeguarded," Lee said.

Lee said that the United States maintained a strong position despite its economic difficulties, pointing to American society's ability to attract foreign talent and the strength of its universities.

But Lee said that Americans "have to eventually share their pre-eminent position with China."

"The US should not see China's inexorable ascent as a zero-sum game, but should find a way to work together, which will call for a combination of regular dialogues, hard negotiation and mutual reassurances," Lee said.

Some forecasts say that China will overtake the United States as the world's largest economy in 2016, although per capita incomes in the billion-plus Asian power will remain much lower.

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