Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Lee Kuan Yew: Bridge builder

By Cang Lide ( Updated: 2015-03-23 18:12
Lee Kuan Yew: Bridge builder

Then-Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, right, welcomes then-Chinese vice-premier Deng Xiaoping, who arrived in Singapore on Nov 12, 1978, for a three-day visit. His trip reciprocated Lee's China visit in May 1976. [Photo/IC]

Just about the time when Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping announced his decision to open up China's economy, he paid a visit to a tiny island state in 1978. His historic visit was one of the first after he became China's top leader.

His conversations with then Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew centered around his plans to better connect China with the world.

Deng was keen to have a closer look at the Singapore model, with its almost miraculous growth as a global financial hub.

He also expressed interest in Singapore's social management.

Lee had famously told Deng that many Singaporean Chinese are descended from forefathers who had arrived as indentured laborers, half literate, hungry but hard working. They were not from the political elite or literati. If Singapore could develop so well from such peasant stock, there was no reason China could not do better.

Apparently Deng kept these conversations in mind because as China started to develop in the successive years, Singapore sent a series of consultants to help develop the special economic zones.

Lee Kuan Yew was also the only head of state who took pains to maintain close personal relationships with five generations of Chinese leaders.

He paid countless visits to China in three decades and was often one of the first to express support for China's transition from planned to market economy.

When China encountered resistance in the international arena, Lee played an important role in mediating and interpreting for China.

In turn, thousands of Chinese cadres and government officials were sent to Singapore on exchange programs and training workshops.

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Most Viewed Today's Top News