India Foundation hosted Mr. George Yeo, Former Foreign Minister of Govt. of Singapore and Chancellor of Nalanda University on 14th April, 2016. Mr. Yeo spoke on“the Future of Asian Renaissance”. Shri MJ Akbar, MP (Rajya Sabha) & Director, India Foundation in his welcome said that he was glad that Mr. Yeo was the Chancellor of Nalanda University and hoped that under his stewardship the institution would grow into one of the great institutions of the world.
Mr. George Yeo thanked India Foundation for inviting him for the interaction. He started by saying that Singapore’s future was between India and China and therefore relations between China and India matter a lot for Singapore. He said that China was expected to be the biggest economy in the world and that the USA or India would hold the second position. He saw a great future for Singapore and ASEAN in the growth of China. He spoke positively about the One Belt One Road (OBOR) policy being pursued by China. He felt that China was the power station of Asia and that if triggered, could give one hell of a shock. He said that the 1962 war between India and China was seen in India as a scar which was yet to heal whereas in China it was almost forgotten. He said that China’s relations with Pakistan were definitely a matter of concern for India. He said that Myanmar would never take a stand against China but would want to serve their own interest through their relations with China in matters of trade, investment etc. He said that all South East Asian countries wanted to develop good relations with the two powerful South Asian Countries – China and India.
Mr. Yeo talked about the importance of ASEAN and how ASEAN could be used to turn the individual weaknesses of the South East Asian countries into their collective strength. He said that friendly relations between India and China would lead to a powerful South East Asia. He said that Buddhism in China was seen as a native religion i.e., a Chinese religion even though the people of china were aware of the fact that Buddhism originated in India. He opined that Buddhism softened Chinese civilization. He reminded the audience that the Indian PM Narendra Modi during his China visit in May 2015, made it a point to visit Wild Goose Pagoda, which was built in recognition of the seventeen year long journey of Xuanzang (Hsuan-tsang in the old spelling) to India in the 7th Century CE and his efforts to popularize Buddhism in China. He was of the opinion that the presence of India’s past in China’s present would hold a lot of significance for both the countries.
Mr. Rajiv Sikri, former Ambassador observed that Chinese one belt one road policy is not a benign one. Referring to Chinese extra-territorial claim, he said that if historical reasons could be used as excuses, Turkey should be claiming whole of Arab world. He felt that there would be competition between China and India in ASEAN region. Mr. Manvendra Singh, BJP Leader and Mr. P. Stobdan, former ambassador also spoke. Mr. M.J. Akbar, MP (Rajya Sabha) summed up by saying India and China are mature enough as nations and confident enough to deal with and sort out outstanding issues. Prof. Lokesh Chandra, Chairman, ICCR presented a memento to George Yeo.