by Augustine Low
The headline in The Business Times summed it up – “Now is the time for China to win friends: Chan Chun Sing.”
Speaking at the FutureChina Global forum held in Singapore yesterday, the Trade and Industry Minister advised China to seize the opportunities during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a historical opportunity for China to win friends and build friendships, especially in times of need, when the world is suffering from the global pandemic,” he said.
“How China reaches out to the rest of the world and sets the standards in its behaviour, would inspire the rest of the world to come towards China.”
He sounded like a grandmaster on China, giving sage advice on how China should behave.
But let’s compare what he said yesterday with what he said last November at a Shanghai forum.
Minister Chan then told the forum: “China will have great responsibilities to set the standards of behaviour for the world . . . China has the opportunity to seize this moment in history to win the world over, through your superior technology, economic management, geopolitical perspective, and so forth.”
Notice the striking similarity between what he said yesterday and last year?
Yesterday, he said China has a “historical opportunity” to “win friends,” last year he advised China to “seize this moment in history to win the world over.” Yesterday, he called on China to “set the standards in its behaviour,” last year he advised China to “set the standards of behaviour for the world.”
Let’s bear in mind too that there was no global pandemic last November. So pandemic or no pandemic, Minister Chan parrots the same messaging.
We have to wonder whether China is listening and whether they need to be told the same thing again and again.
Will it be regurgitated at next year’s forum?