Why S'pore need not fear a rising China

Managing editor Han Fook Kwang's view, that the rest of Asia and the world will be sucked into China's orbit once it becomes a global superpower ("Get ready for a formidable, rising China"; last Sunday), ignores the greater multilateralism, multiculturalism and multipolarity that have shaped international law and order since the end of World War II.

This positive evolution should check any potential revitalisation of the Pax Sinica that bestrode East Asia during ancient times.

Rapid technological advancements such as the Internet have enabled forward-looking, nimble and competent small states like Singapore to increase their global reach, foster a variety of cross-border collaborations more efficiently and punch way above their weight.

Far bigger countries with a younger demographic profile than Singapore - and China - such as India and Indonesia have ambitions to restore themselves to their former glories.

The world's only superpower, the United States, will remain a leader if its political actors stop betraying the ethos of creative destruction and re-invention that propelled their country to be first among equals on the international stage over the last century.

Multilateralism can only be a force of good for Asia and the world.

In a world where hierarchies are being dynamically eroded, trust and respect must be earned and re-earned.

Healthy US-Sino relations across all fronts can help China contain the dark forces of hubris and chauvinism both at home as well as abroad in neighbouring Japan.

China can benefit from treating rules-based bilateralism and multilateralism as a glass half-full and not half-empty.

Singapore need not fear a more formidable "Middle Kingdom" as long as we stay true to our principles of good governance, stay open for cultural and commercial exchanges with the world and, above all, stand united as one people.

A go-getting global and just city-state that knows how to leverage its strengths and stand its ground in a diverse international environment will be relevant to all nations, both big and small.

-Toh Cheng Seong, Reader