Graham Allison and Bob Blackwill have important questions to ask about China, America and the extraordinary impact of the relationship of those two countries on the rest of the world. For answers, they turned to Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first premier and one of the world’s most formidable geopolitical thinkers and strategists. The result is a fascinating book called Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World. I had some of my own questions for them. The answers are written responses that Allison and Blackwill wrote together.
Q: Why is Lee Kuan Yew invaluable as a source of insight into China, America and the world? And why is Singapore so important for Asia’s future?
If you were to ask the world’s smartest and most influential people the question, “Who, by virtue of intelligence and life experience, is likely to have the most insightful answers about China, America, and the world?” their answer would be: Lee Kuan Yew.
As Henry Kissinger says in the foreword to our book, “I have had the privilege of meeting many world leaders over the past half century; none, however, has taught me more than Lee Kuan Yew.” Lee has also served as mentor to every Chinese leader from Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping and as counselor to every American president from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. The list goes on.
Under his leadership, a small, poor, corrupt port city rose in a single generation to first-world status, and its citizens now enjoy higher annual incomes than Americans. He spearheaded “the rise of the rest” in Asia, which has transformed Singapore’s front yard — the Strait of Malacca — into one of the most important commercial crossroads in the world.