FW: Foreign Pool Report - Welcome Ceremony for Singaporean Prime Minister

From: Ching-Yi Chang [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 2, 2016 10:38 AM
To: Gabriel, Brian A. EOP/WHO ; Rutherford, Sarah D. EOP/WHO
Subject: Foreign Pool Report - Welcome Ceremony for Singaporean Prime Minister

For the first time in 30 years, Singaporean Prime Minister has an official visit to the White House. The U.S. and Singapore are not treaty allies, yet as President Obama said during the welcome ceremony, “Singapore is an anchor of our presence in the region.”

30 years ago, it was Lee Kuan Yew (Lee is last name) who had an official visit to the White House to meet President Lyndon B. Johnson.

In Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s remark on stage during the welcome ceremony,  “Singapore was newly independent, we were struggle to build modern economy, and had no means to defend ourselves in a turbulent Southeast Asia.” He said his father didn’t come for asking for help from the U.S., because the U.S. was divided by the Vietnam War. He was in the U.S. to learn the intention of the U.S. and tell LBJ the importance of Asia.

Time has changed. Southeast Asia is prosperous and peaceful right now. Prime Minister Lee said to President Obama on stage it was because of the U.S. presence there, “the U.S. rebalance to Asia is an important affirmation of longstanding policy of the U.S., and is warmly welcomed by all ASEAN countries.”

The Prime Minister also mentioned about the U.S.-China relations and TPP, he said, “Your efforts to build a constructive relationship with China will set the strategic backdrop for the whole region and beyond. You have personally pushed for the Trans-Pacific Partnership… In particular, we hope, and I'm sure the president shares this hope, that Congress will ratify the TPP soon.”

He also talked about the election (kind of), “Singapore's own ties with the United States have remained steadfast through nine U.S. presidents, five Republican and four Democratic. And three Singapore prime ministers. We will maintain these bipartisan the links with whichever party wins the election in November. We will continue to build and to deepen our economic and security relationships.” The Prime Minister wore a purple tie, not a red one nor blue one.

The Prime Minister's remark lasted roughly 7 minutes.

The Singaporean’s official visit is significant, because it’s the fifth Asian country in Obama’s term has the official visit to the White House, previously there were China (twice), India, Japan and South Korea. Two are emerging powers in the region and two are treaty allies of the U.S. And of course, Singapore is the very first Southeast Asia country welcomed to the White House for the official visit and state dinner.

Some color:

While the President and the Prime Minister greeted the crowd in welcome ceremony, the President held babies in his arms for three times. One time, while the President held a baby in his arms, the Prime Minister was taking photo of a few excited Singaporeans in the crowd with his own cell phone. A very interesting scene.

My best,

Ching-Yi Chang
White House Correspondent & Chief Editor
US News Center
Shanghai Media Group (SMG)
China's largest provincial media conglomerate
Mobile: +xxx-xxx-xxxx

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