China’s Foreign Minister held talks with Singaporean leader Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday during a Southeast Asian tour seen as a pushback against Washington’s efforts to reassert its influence in the region.
In recent weeks, both U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin have visited the city-state and strongly criticised Beijing’s growing aggression in Asia.
The trips were part of efforts by the new U.S. administration to reset relations in the region after the turbulent Donald Trump era, and build a bulwark against China’s rising might.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi had also had stops in Vietnam and Cambodia on his trip — both countries visited by senior U.S. officials in recent months.
On Tuesday, he held talks with Singaporean PM Lee, who said the pair had a “productive and candid discussion on global and regional developments”.
Southeast Asia is an important battleground for influence for the world’s two biggest economies at a time when Beijing is challenging U.S.’ political sway and naval dominance in the region.
Singapore, which has strong security ties with U.S. and vibrant economic ties with Beijing, has said countries should not be made to choose between China and the U.S.