China: Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew had unique influence

People lay flowers and well-wishes for Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew at the Singapore General Hospital in Singapore March 22, 2015. — Reuters pic
People lay flowers and well-wishes for Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew at the Singapore General Hospital in Singapore March 22, 2015. — Reuters pic

BEIJING, March 23 — China praised Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew as “an Asian statesman of unique influence” today after he died aged 91.

“He was also a strategist with both Eastern values and international perspective,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement posted online.

Lee was the “creator and founder” of ties between the city-state, which is ethnically majority Chinese, and the world’s most populous country, Hong said, lauding him for making “historic contributions” to the relationship.

China expressed “deep condolences and sincere solicitude to the Singaporean government, its people and the relatives of Mr Lee Kuan Yew for his passing”, Hong said.

Lee dominated Singaporean politics for more than half a century, and his model of discipline allied to economic growth served as an example to China’s Communist leaders as they embarked on reforms. 

For his part Lee identified China as a driver of world economic growth early on, and advised leaders of both Beijing and the West on each other.

Chinese web portal Netease said Lee had visited the country 33 times since 1976. — AFP