TRANSCRIPT OF QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION WITH MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS GEORGE YEO ON CHINA'S RE-EMERGENCE ON THE GLOBAL STAGE, AT THE FUTURE CHINA GLOBAL FORUM, 13 JULY 2010
Moderator MP Josephine Teo: Minister, I would like to ask you about our ASEAN neighbours. In your interactions with them, what do you sense as their attitude towards
Minister George Yeo: Even when China was down, when it was economically inconsequential, all the countries of Southeast Asia bar none had a certain deep respect for China because they remember the China of the Qing Dynasty, they remember the voyages of Zheng He （郑和）. And all over Southeast Asia there are Chinese communities which by their performance and their abilities, are a reminder to them of what
Question: Good afternoon, sir. My name is Chan Zhixing and I'm a third year law student from the Singapore Management University (SMU). You mentioned about elements of nei (内-internal) and wai (外-external). My question is: What are some of the guiding principles which determine what is nei and what is wai from a Chinese perspective? Do we know what is considered important to them, what is their core interest, but what is the guiding principle for them in deciding whether something is internal or external? Thank you.
Minister: You know, it's hard to reduce this into rules. I think those of us who are raised as Chinese instinctively feel it, and learn that as a core principle, learning as a young child how to deal with people who are not like you. And the way to treat those who are not like you is to be extra nice to them. You always treat strangers better than your own people because you are afraid of strangers. So the best food, the best items are reserved for strangers [Laughter]. Among yourselves you get the second best, but when a foreigner comes, always win him over by generosity because you are afraid of him. How do you define that? Is it genetic? It is not genetic because Han people are genetically very diverse. Is it a fixed set of cultural norms? But the norms in dong bei (东北-the Northeast) are very different from the norms in gan su (甘肃), very different from norms in the South. And strangely even the Chinese outside
Moderator: Well, even our grandparents think of us as nei sun (内孙paternal grandson) or wai sun (外孙-maternal grandson). When we visit
Minister: You mean, what they like of us and what they don't like of us?
Moderator: That's right.
Minister: Well, I think because
Moderator: On that note Minister, I have a question about the role of
Moderator: So a bridge rather than the bridge.
Minister: It can be a node. If we are creative, if we are far-seeing, we can enlarge this node and increase its connectivity to other nodes. But if we become self-satisfied or inward-looking, then we will shrink and then become less relevant to others. But it is becoming a networked-world, and everybody has bypasses. No one is indispensable.
Moderator: And the one thing we can do to strengthen ourselves as that node?
Minister: It is a little paradoxical, that the more we want to strengthen our links with
Moderator: Well ladies and gentlemen, although we invited Minister George Yeo to speak to us on China, but you can see from the breadth of his knowledge and his interest in history, and also his keen observation of everything that’s going around in the world, you do not get just China, you will get synapses, you will get TCP/IP, you will get everything else that is related to this in the most interesting, stimulating and engaging way. May I just ask all of us to just show our appreciation to Mr George Yeo for sharing with us so generously. Thank you so much!