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Friday, May 25, 2018

'US-China tit-for-tat threatens prosperity'

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Trade tensions between the US and China hurt business and their unilateral, "tit-for-tat" actions undermine the multilateral trading system - thus threatening global prosperity, especially for smaller countries like Singapore, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday.

Speaking in Parliament, Lee described how globalization has come under pressure, with Western countries in particular "questioning the benefits of openness and free trade".He said the American administration under President Donald Trump now feels "that other countries are benefitting more from the global system, and at the expense of the US".

"They want to make sure that the US will always benefit directly - item by item, country by country," said Lee.Trade has emerged as a top issue for the US and especially in wider relations with China, he noted.

"The US is still stronger, especially militarily, but China is growing in power, influence and confidence … If there is mutual distrust and rivalry between the two, it is but a small step from a trade disagreement to a wider and more serious quarrel," said Lee. "The US and China are far from going to war with each other, but it is not clear which way their relations will tilt, reports Channel News Asia.

"If they tilt towards more conflict, it will be bad not only for the two powers, but for the rest of the world as well ... But if relations tilt to the other extreme, and the two powers agree to divide up the world between them, and set rules that only benefit them, that would be just as detrimental, especially for small countries which have no say."

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