Singapore’s incumbent deputy prime minister Lawrence Wong has warned that China and the U.S. may be leading the world into a “more dangerous territory” amid rising tensions over Taiwan.
China has conducted a series of military exercises around Taiwan, which became more frequent after the U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid a brief visit to Taiwan.
In the latest development, China announced on August 15 that it would deploy new patrols around the island. The move aims to fight back against another U.S. congressional visit to Taiwan.
With the tensions between China and the U.S. escalating, Lawrence Wong said that the two powers are likely to sleepwalk into conflict if they do not work to de-escalate the tensions.
Wong is now Singapore’s deputy prime minister and the prime minister-in-waiting. He is expected to take over in November 2025.
During an interview with Bloomberg on August 15, Wong said the ties between China and the U.S. are on a “very worrying” trajectory.
He said: “We are starting to see a series of decisions being taken by both countries that will lead us into more and more dangerous territory.”
“As they say, no one deliberately wants to go into battle, but we sleepwalk into conflict.”
Wong added: “That’s the biggest problem and danger.”
According to Bloomberg, Singapore is among the most vocal Asian countries calling for China and the U.S. to avoid a conflict. A clash could hit smaller countries in the region.
Wong said he is worried about potential accidents and miscalculations from both sides, and hopes that China and the U.S. can make rational decisions to prevent things from worsening.
While China continues retaliating against the U.S. over Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, the White House has been seeking to keep their relationship from deteriorating further.
The U.S. government pointed out that its Congress is independent of the executive branch and that there was no change to the U.S.’s One China policy.
Before Pelosi made a trip to Taiwan, Beijing and Washington had been working to hold an in-person meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden. The two leaders are expected to meet later this year at a G20 summit in Indonesia.
In the interview, Wong said the world is entering a new order in which trade, economics, and finance are used as instruments of geopolitical contests.
Wong said: “The old logic used to be that with more trade we can tamp down geopolitical rivalries. Now there is another logic at play, which is geopolitics can undermine trade. And we worry about that, because this will lead us to a more divided and dangerous world.”