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PM Lee outlines Singapore's approach to securing its place in the world
PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the need for Singapore to defend itself as well as have a network of friends, in order for the country to secure its place in the world.
Speaking at the National Day Rally on Sunday, PM Lee said: "We have to defend ourselves, and that's why we have the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces). But as a small country, we also need a network of friends. Friends in our neighbourhood, and also among the big powers all over the world, even in faraway places."
"Beyond Malaysia and Indonesia, our most important relationships are with China and America."
Referring to his official visit to the United States, Mr Lee said that the visit reflects Singapore's warm and deep friendship with America.
At the same time, Singapore is good friends with China, the prime minister said.
Mr Lee also alluded to the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, saying: "We don't have any claims of our own in the South China Sea. We don't take sides on the specific claims of China, the Philippines and the other claimants.
"But in other ways, we have a lot at stake."
According to Mr Lee, three things matter to Singapore: international law, the freedom of navigation and a united Asean.
Nearer home, Malaysia and Indonesia are Singapore's "two most important partners", according to Mr Lee.
"We work hard to build our ties with them, but these are sensitive, complex relationships. From time to time, there will be differences, because of their deep-seated attitudes towards us," he said.
"Today, on the whole, relations with Malaysia and Indonesia are good."