Interview: Western criticisms of China arise partly from “sudden realization” of its success — former Singaporean FM

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SINGAPORE, April 20 (Xinhua) — Western criticisms over issues concerning China’s Hong Kong and Xinjiang come partly from their “sudden realization” in recent years that China is becoming successful and strong, said Singapore’s former Foreign Minister George Yeo.

China has been making very good progress since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in November 2012, at which Chinese President Xi Jinping became the party leader, Yeo told Xinhua in a recent interview.

For some countries which used to think that China was still backward, they were surprised to realize that China is becoming very successful and strong, and indeed advanced in many technological areas, he said.

“This (China’s rise) did not happen overnight. This has been going on for many years. But for some reason it is only in the last few years that this realization has become widespread. As a result, the Western sense of insecurity has grown stronger,” he added.

The sudden realization of China’s rise “partly explains why in recent years they criticize China on many issues,” said Yeo. “China is not a threat to the West but it is a threat to the long historical dominance of the West in the world.”

Yeo, who once lived in Hong Kong and commuted between Hong Kong and Singapore for many years, spoke highly of the recently-adopted law on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong, saying that he is “very glad that finally stability has returned to Hong Kong.”

“How can Hong Kong be said to have less democracy today than under the British (rule)? Under British colonial rule, the governor was appointed by London. No one had any say,” he said.

Recalling his first visit to Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in 1991, Yeo said he was surprised to see all the road signs bearing Chinese, English and Uygur characters. He was told that Uygur characters were not used until the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

Yeo rejected the claim of genocide in Xinjiang made by some Western countries, saying it is a misuse and an abuse of the word.

“There are political reasons for pushing this as genocide. It goes back to what I said earlier about the fear of a rising China, and the fear that the China-proposed Belt & Road Initiative will increase China’s influence in a larger part of Asia,” he said.

“I tell my Western friends, when they look at the situation in China, instead of focusing on the pimples, and China’s appearance is by no means perfect, they should look instead at the whole face and make an overall assessment,” he added. Enditem

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