Singapore's founding leader Lee Kuan Yew predicts that it would take China at least 20 years to become a technology powerhouse. In an interview in the latest issue of U.S. magazine Business Week, Lee said China is "still behind the U.S. They have to put up a stealth fighter, put a man into space. That's a prodigious effort on their part."
Despite being the world's second-largest economy, Lee said China lacks global clout since it "hasn't got a worldwide interest. She only concentrates on those areas where she needs oil and other resources."
He downplayed fears of a stand-off between the U.S. and China. "I don't think there will be a face-off in the sense of a conflict. A struggle for influence, yes. I think it will be subdued because the Chinese need the U.S," said Lee, "The Chinese need U.S. markets, need U.S. technology, and need to have students go to the U.S. and study, then start doing business so that they can improve their lot. All that information and all the technological capabilities will be cut off from them."
The former prime minster said Chinese state capitalism is no model development and vastly inferior to private capitalism. "Would you stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning if it's not your company at stake?" he demanded. Asked whether Asian countries including Singapore are scared of China, Lee said "wary" would be a better word -- "wary of taking a step that hurts their core interests."
He predicted there will be no radical social change in China like the Jasmine Revolutions in the Middle East, despite mushrooming problems. "Public security is so comprehensive and tight. They call this another Velvet Revolution that took place in the Arab world. In China, if you put it on Facebook and say, 'Let's get together,' it will be put down before anybody could arrive. They're not interested in what the world thinks. They're interested in their internal stability and success. There's no evangelical urge to change things," Lee said.