Singapore former PM Lee Kuan Yew passes away
Updated: 2015-03-23 04:47
By Zhang Yunbi(chinadaily.com.cn/Agencies)
Then vice-president Xi Jinping, right, meets Singapore's former prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, in this May 23, 2011, file photo. [Photo by Xu Jingxing/Asianewsphoto]
In 2011, Xi Jinping, then China's vice-president, told Lee that "tens of thousands of Chinese officials at various ranks have been to Singapore for visiting and studying", and "this has played an important role in promoting bilateral relations and China's construction for modernization".
Even during his last few China visits, Lee often expounded when meeting with Chinese leaders on nurturing talent and the need for further promoting people-to-people exchanges.
Jin, the Renmin University professor, recalled his encounter with Lee in 2007 at a symposium in Singapore, in which Lee displayed his admiration for Deng Xiaoping.
"Lee was asked by a visiting scholar from China for advice on China's future reform and opening-up," said Jin. "Lee said, 'You have Mr. Deng Xiaoping already. He is way better than me. Just follow him!'"
In addition to his identity as a frequent visitor to China and guest of Beijing, he was internationally known as an insightful observer of China-related affairs who was often sought out for advice.
His books, articles and comments on China's evolving role in regional and global contexts — either positive or negative, in the eyes of ordinary readers — often put him in the media spotlight.
Some observers have regarded him as a bridge that connected China and the rest of the world, while others described him as a mirror that reflected "how China looks in the eyes of the region and other parts of the world".
"Generally, China pays respect to him," professor Jin said. "The two sides may differ in some issues, because Singapore is another country, after all. ... It was perfectly natural for Lee to act out of national interests and deliver some differing opinions."
Zhang, the veteran diplomat, said Lee was a man known for his "nonstop pursuit of new knowledge". Lee always learned new skills and kept pace with the changing world, including his Internet interactions with ordinary people and his fluency in the Chinese language, Zhang added.
"Why have people always paid great attention to his insights and referred to him for advice on hot spot issues around the world? Because he often saw what people could not see," the former ambassador said.