Sun, Apr 24, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Lee Kuan Yew tells China to be careful

AP , SINGAPORE

Singapore's founding father yesterday urged China to use its rapid economic growth to rekindle Chinese civilization and not to flex its military muscle, news media reported.

Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀), one of Asia's most prominent elder statesmen, said China should embark on a cultural renaissance to show that its ambitions are not to conquer the world but to enrich its civilization, state-run broadcaster Channel News Asia reported.

But the authoritarian giant will have to create an open environment in China to make it attractive to other countries, the report quoted Lee as saying.

Lee, who holds the position of "Minister Mentor" in Singapore, also called China's disputes with Taiwan over the country's de facto independence an "unwanted problem and distraction," the report said.

China's legislature last month passed a law authorizing the use of force if Taiwan moves toward formal independence. The two sides split amid civil war in 1949, but China claims the democratic, self-ruled island as its own territory.

Singapore has long sided with Beijing over Taiwan's status, despite friendly relations between the two countries. The Southeast Asian city-state has also worked to keep good ties with China.

Lee was speaking at the annual Boao Forum yesterrday, a conference started by the Chinese as Asia's answer to the World Economic Forum.

The conference is held on the Chinese southern island province of Hainan.

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