Singapore’s wisdom reflected in hosting Kim-Trump meet

By Sun Xiaobo Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/14 22:23:39

US President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un are set to have a historic meet in Singapore on June 12, the first ever meeting between a sitting US president and North Korean leader.

The thrilling news again thrust in the limelight Singapore's constant efforts to be an intermediary in hotspot issues despite its small size. For instance, the city state has been coordinating communication between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, and in 2015 hosted the historic meeting of Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou, leaders from across the Straits.

Singapore was also instrumental within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and served as an important coordinator between ASEAN and major countries like China and Western nations.

Small Asian countries are now enhancing cooperation in a bid to become more influential, during which Singapore has played a key role. The "little red dot" has a big diplomatic role to play in the international community, which should never be underestimated.

The diplomatic ambitions of Singapore were set by its founding father Lee Kuan Yew. As the smallest country in Southeast Asia, Singapore is clearly aware of where it should be going in the first place. It wisely adopts pragmatism, allowing no constraint by any dogma and upholding open and free trade. While prioritizing economic development, it seeks to be useful in the international community, a feat few small nations could achieve.

Singapore does rely on the West for its security guarantee and the benefits of a global free trade system, but whenever there are chances it seeks to keep sound relations with any other country. In less than six decades the resource-scant country has become developed with a good international reputation. In the case of the Trump-Kim meeting, observers believe that Singapore's close diplomatic relations with both the US and North Korea are also a factor considered when the two countries picked the small nation as the site for their summit.

It's never easy for a small nation to struggle for survival among large countries and strike a balance between powers. So far Singapore has done well in this regard compared with Qatar that was embroiled in a diplomatic crisis last year. While some in China often overlook Singapore's particular role and consider it simply a puppet of major powers, perhaps we should show more understanding for its stance.

Given its economic power and regional influence, Singapore is expected to play its role in facilitating the Belt and Road initiative and China's relations with ASEAN, such as crafting the South China Sea Code of Conduct. China needs to attach more importance to the coordinating role of Singapore.

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