The annual Straits Times Global Outlook Forum on 11 January 2021 looked at the issues facing Asia and ASEAN in light of the pandemic, the US elections, and changing relations in the region.
To help Asia and ASEAN move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic and advance the region’s collective interests, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said that the United States and China “must take a rational view and find common ground on global issues, competing when necessary but cooperating where possible”.
In his speech, DPM Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance said, “To safeguard our independence and agency, our region must remain anchored on ASEAN Centrality. ASEAN must play a proactive and central role in engaging external partners, always working inclusively and pragmatically, and transcending disagreements between external powers. One example is the negotiation of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, which will help keep our region open, and avoid miscalculation and misunderstanding.”