英国广播公司 (BBC): 过去几年，中美关系明显恶化。未来你会选择哪一方？
李显龙：它们必须共存。它们会在本区域面对竞争、紧张局势及南中国海等问题。但它们是两个都很强大的国家，任何一方都不可能把另一方剔除，也不可能自己倒下。中国与苏联不同，当时苏联的经济根本支撑不下去，很多都是虚幻的。最终，里根（Ronald Reagan）提出了“星球大战计划”（Strategic Defense Initiative）并极力推动这项军事战略。这足以拖垮苏联，但戈尔巴乔夫（Gorbachev）带领国家走向不同的方向。
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Comments by PM at the Teck Ghee Vaccination Centre
Karishma Vaswani (BBC): How much of a game changer is this vaccine for Singapore, do you think?
PM Lee Hsien Loong: The only way for us to stop being vulnerable and to open up to the world again is to get ourselves protected with a vaccine, very comprehensively, which we can do within this year. It will not be a full answer, because first it's not absolutely foolproof. Secondly, you will have new mutants that are turning up and we may need further vaccinations. Thirdly, the other countries are not all ready to come out from lockdown yet. So even if we are ready to do business, you need partners.
Karishma Vaswani (BBC): Prime Minister, thank you for joining me on Talking Business Asia. We are more than a year into the pandemic. Is the worst behind us?
PM Lee Hsien Loong: We have to keep on watching to see how the virus mutates, whether new strains evolve, how quickly the vaccines can catch up, and how quickly the Governments can proliferate the vaccines and vaccinate everybody.
It is amassive task. Nobody has ever tried to vaccinate the entire population of the world within a year, or two or three years, I think that we are going to be struggling with this for some time yet, but we are no longer defenceless.
BBC: When you say struggling for some time yet, how long do you see the pandemic last?
PM Lee: It will not last forever. Pandemics have happened before. Eventually, it subsided. I hope after several years, this will subside too, one way or the other. and we learn to live with this if it does not disappear. And that may be three to five years.
BBC: When do you see life returning to normal? I know you projected that the pandemic might last three to five years, but travel for instance, when do you see that normal life coming?
PM Lee: I hope if that many countries can have substantial proportions of their populations vaccinated by later this year, we will be able to have the confidence and to have developed the systems to open up our international borders to travel safely again. It would not be like before where you can just buy a ticket, hop onto the plane and go off to Hong Kong, Bangkok or Bali for a weekend and a casual holiday. You have to plan for it, you must have some documentation, you need some way to prove that you have been properly vaccinated and maybe be tested to prove that you have the antibodies in you when you fly.
But hopefully, by the end of this year or next year, the doors can start to open, if not earlier.
BBC: Singapore's contact tracing app was sold to the public as a way to identify people at risk of being infected by the virus. But your Minister admitted in Parliament that police can also use it to access data for certain crimes.
PM Lee: As we have explained in Parliament, and we have passed legislation to say that you can only access a contact tracing information for certain enumerated serious classes of crime, such as terrorism, murder, kidnapping, rape, violent crimes. We have to go by the law. If we do not go by the law, you go to jail.
BBC: There is a concern and we have read this from online forums and your own citizens about how wide-reaching this app could be, and that if in the first instance, there was a sense that perhaps not the whole truth came out, that could you then use it again, for some other purposes?
PM Lee: I think we made a mistake. This app was designed for contact tracing and for pandemic purposes. But under the law, the police have powers to ask for information for criminal investigations and police investigations, and it covered this app. We should have said so upfront. We did not, and we came out and said so. When one of our own MPs raised that question, we had to come out and explain this. I think there was anxiety, there was a reaction, quite a strong one. And after the pandemic is over, we will delete the information. I think people have accepted that, and we will be able to live with this.
BBC: Is the pandemic a gateway to a world where surveillance is more acceptable to people and useful for governments? Other countries are looking at surveillance apps or contact tracing apps like this.
PM Lee: I think it is not just the pandemic. It is the modern world. Even without surveillance apps, there are all kinds of apps which track where you have been and what you are doing. The owners of these apps collect the information and often resell them. But the fact is that privacy, [compared to] the days before the internet, Wi-Fi and Google image search, is not the same anymore, anywhere in the world.
This is something which people are getting used to, and at the same time, it is something societies have to find ways to deal with, to protect the legitimate concerns which people have, that this is going to be used against them. I think that there is a certain tension between individual rights and privacies, and our need to work together as a society and a community and to trust one another.
BBC: Just how badly has Singapore been hit by the pandemic and by the larger forces against globalisation?
PM Lee: The pandemic has been an enormous upheaval for us. Economically, last year, we had minus 5.5 per cent GDP growth (correction: 5.4%), which is our worst ever. In terms of cases, we have had quite a lot of cases, 60,000 odd. But fortunately, most of them have not been severe cases, so our fatalities have been very low. So far, 29 have died of COVID-19. But the social impact, the disruption, anxieties over loss of pay and jobs, over what you do with our children at home when schools close – that has been pervasive.
Globalisationis a longer-term problem, but deglobalisation, there have been trends underway for some time now, not least because of the US and China, but not just that. COVID-19 may give it a further push, I hope not over the edge, but it will push it a little bit further, because everybody says I need to make my own masks, I need to have my own supply chains. When everyone scrambles at the same time for something scarce, it is not very good for the world.
BBC: Is the era of globalisation over?
PM Lee: I hope not. I think there is a lot going for globalisation even now. Not every country can make its own vaccines, and even the countries which can make their own vaccines need to cooperate with one another. I think that globalisation will be under pressure, but the imperative for countries to cooperate, for businesses to operate across many geographies, to tap resources, to bring skills and talents and experiences together, and then serve markets all around the world, I do not think that is going to disappear. It will be moderated, and there will be tensions over security, tensions over competitiveness, who controls technology. But you cannot avoid working with one another because to go back to where you were, that way lies poverty and despair, and probably instability and conflict.
BBC: But globalisation, even in your own country, has not always benefited everyone. Many people have felt left out here. Do we need a new economic model?
PM Lee: Globalisation has benefited everybody in Singapore. You may not feel it so, but if we did not have the multinationals here, if we did not have the international trade that we have, if we were not open as we are, I have no doubt all of us would be worse off. But what has generated tensions is when the interface is so stark, people see the competition directly – because they are in a global market now. But at the same time, they understand that our way forward cannot be to close ourselves up, because if we do that, we are all going to be worse off.
BBC: Is that the way you see Singapore growing in the future, given the backlash against globalisation that we are seeing now?
PM Lee: We will work very hard to do that. It is not just a matter of good intentions, but also whether or not we can make sure people see that globalisation is working out for them. For the people who feel that the competition is fierce and the future is unpredictable, that they know there is in fact extra help and support for them, that they are not alone in this, and in Singapore, we will make sure that they are well looked after, provided they make the effort to continue to upgrade themselves.
We are putting a lot of effort into this. We have Skills Future, which is a comprehensive programme to train and retrain people throughout their working lives after they have left school. Courses, recognition, schemes, arrangements with employers, Government subsidies,. Every country is trying to do this, but we are trying to do it more systematically, and with our full resources behind it.
BBC: The US-China relationship has deteriorated significantly over the last few years. When the time comes, which one will you choose?
PM Lee: I hope the time does not come. It is not possible for us to choose one or the other because we have very intense and extensive ties with both the US and with China, economic as well as in other areas, and so do many other countries in the world. I do not think this is a dilemma only for Singapore. It is a problemfor many countries in the world, which is why we are all hoping and encouraging the two large powers to think very carefully before deciding that the other one is an adversary which has to be kept down, if not put down.
BBC: What would it take, do you think, to get to a point where we see real military conflict between China and the US? How likely is the possibility, do you think?
PM Lee: It is more likely than it was five years ago, but I think the odds of a military clash are not yet high. But the risk of severe tensions, which will raise the odds later on, I think that is considerable, because both sides take the domestic calculations as paramount. What is their domestic position? How canthey secure it? What must they do with their own populations, [that] their external relations are based on? Therefore, it is not so easy to say the external logic compels you to work together, because the internal logic may impel you to takea very hard line, and then you may find yourself at an impasse and clash. That can easily happen.
BBC: Do you think the US needs to accept that it is no longer number one?
PM Lee: The US is still number one, but number two is not so far behind. That is what is difficult for the US to accept.
BBC: How concerned are you with the direction that China is taking politically?
PM Lee: We cannot judge the domestic pressures which lead China to make the decisions it makes. But I think internationally the position it has taken has won it some friends but at the same time, has led to tensions with major powers, and with many other countries. And there is significant uncertainty and anxiety over which way China is going, and whether this will be good for them. I do not think that is in China's interest.
BBC: What do you think might be a better solution or a better way?
PM Lee: I would hesitate to give advice to other countries’ leaders. I think they all make their own calculations, but what we would like to see is China being ableto be a country where its prosperity, development and its growing strength is welcomed by other countries in the world, who see this as an opportunity for them to prosper together and to live in a stable world together. Even now, many countries, including Singapore, want very much to maintain good relations with China in order to benefit from China's development and to co-prosper with them. I think that that is a very important factor which China has had in its favour, which would be a pity to miss out on in the next phase.
If you look at America, it used to be that the business people, American businessmen, MNCs, would be one of the strongest advocates for good relations with China, because they saw the opportunities there. They saw how they could prosper there; they were investing there, they were trading. Walmart buys enormous amounts from China, and it benefits Americans, not just Walmart, but American housewives and ordinary people all over the country. But in the last five to seven years, I think American business attitudes have shifted, and they are now no longer as open in the support of China. In fact, there is quite a lot of pushback. It is not that the opportunities are not there, but they see that China has moved forward, and they want to see a more open environment, and one where they get a bigger bite of the cherry. I think it is understandable. China is [in] a new position now, and you have to set a different balance in your relationship with the world. What the world was prepared to grant you in an earlier phase now has to be reworked, and that is quite difficult for a country to accept.
BBC: Indeed, and it makes it quite difficult for a country like Singapore that sits in the middle of all of these to navigate. When you do try and navigate with these big economic and political powers, what are some of your key considerations?
PM Lee: First, what is in Singapore's interests? How do we make a rational assessment of that and make that judgment for ourselves, and hold our people together, persuade them that this is the right thing to do? Generally, it is that we want to be friends with both, but we have to find our own way forward. From time to time, there will be kerfuffles. We have had kerfuffles with China once in a while, with America also once in a while. When that happens, you have to understand it cannot be helped. Between countries, this happens. It does not mean we are your opponents, but it does mean that we have problems which need to be worked through, and meanwhile [there are] other areas where we can continue to work together. That is how we do it.
BBC: But is it realistic to sit on the fence? The Biden administration has already called for a review of supply chains, saying it wants to work with like-minded countries. It sounds like the US has made a choice. Do you not want to make achoice before it is made for you?
PM Lee: These tensions will come. The Europeans feel the same. They signed an investment agreement with China, just before the Biden administration took office, so I do not think we are the only ones in this boat.
BBC: What sort of leader do you hope to see in President Biden when it comes to dealing with China and Asia?
PM Lee: I do not need to give him advice, but we look to a President who has first, good domestic support. Second, a good understanding of the world and the US’ role in the world, believes in multilateralism and international trade, and is prepared to play America's part to uphold the system from which America benefits so much.
BBC: What would it take, do you think, to get to a point where we see real military conflict between China and the US?
PM Lee: It could happen before you expect it, if there is a mishap. If the countries are careful, it will not happen. During the Cold War, there were many near misses, but that went on for nearly 40 years, and we avoided a nuclear catastrophe.
BBC: How likely is the possibility, do you think, given that you know these two countries so well, of something like that happening now?
BBC: How do you see these two superpowers co-existing, if at all, in this region?
PM Lee: They have to coexist. There will be competition in the region, tensions, and issues like the South China Sea. But these are two very major powers, neither of whom is going to be able to put the other one away, and neither of whom is going tocurl up and die. China is not like the Soviet Union, which had an economy which was unsustainable, a lot of which was make-believe, and eventually, Ronald Reagan said SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) and pushed for that. That was enough to push [the Soviet Union] over the brink, and Gorbachev took them adifferent direction.
But the Chinese economy is not like that. It has got a lot of resilience, tremendous energy and creativity, and people who are on the move and are making great progress. If necessary, on their own, but anyway, they are going to move forward and they are not going to give up. Neither is the US going to die. It has very serious political schisms and problems, but it has got tremendous vitality and attraction for people around the world. It has come back from many difficult spots before. In that situation, I think unless the two powers decide to coexist, they are both in for a hard time, and so are we.*
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