10 Things to Know About What PM Lee & Joe Biden Spoke About Summarised for You


Starting from last Saturday (26 Mar), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong began a week-long visit to the United States of America, with the intention to meet Joe Biden, too.

On 29 March, the two leaders held a Press Conference to reveal what they had been discussing since PM Lee’s arrival to the White House, and what can be expected from a deepening cooperation between Singapore and the United States.

Here are 10 facts that you need to know about the press conference jointly held by US President Joe Biden and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Reaffirmation of Ties

Given that this is a diplomatic visit, there’s nothing more important than reaffirming the strong ties between Singapore and the United States (US), especially after a certain orange spray tanned and blonde toupee wearing clown who shall not be named.

The US President shared that he has “deep personal ties” with the Singaporean Prime Minister ever since he became Vice-President under the Obama Administration, wherein the two politicians would meet at summits and conferences.

In Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s words, he said, “We reaffirmed the long-standing and multifaceted partnership between Singapore and the US, and our shared commitment to a stable, rules-based global order.”

PM Lee adds that the US has played a crucial role in the Asia-Pacific for more than 80 years, with Singapore largely benefitting from the strong US presence, with the substantial bilateral cooperation formed between the two countries on economic, defence, and security issues.

Increased Cooperation with the Asia-Pacific Region

Another key takeaway from Biden’s speech was his interest to expand his cooperation with the Asia-Pacific Region, or the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to be specific.

To further prove that point, Biden intends on hosting a Special Summit with the ASEAN leaders in attendance in the United States this Spring.

For ASEAN, America’s decision to forge stronger ties is welcomed news, feeling that it was necessary for the United States to have more strategic and economic stakes in Singapore.

It was implied in Biden’s speech, but it’s quite evident that the cementing US presence in the Southeast Asian regions counteracts against the growing influence of China.

Condemnation of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine, both the US and Singapore have immediately slammed Russia with a tranche of sanctions.

President Biden acknowledges that Singapore “[punched] way above [its] weight” by doing so, especially considering how Singapore had always preferred being a neutral or mediatory party to conflicts, as opposed to openly taking sides in global politics.

Presently, Russia has all but declared “unfriendly relations” with the two countries. 

“Today, Singapore and the United States are united in sending the message to all nations—to all nations, regardless of their size or population: They are equal in the right—in their rights on the global stage. They have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity and to determine their own future from violence and intimidation,” Biden said.

Commitment to the United Nations Charter

The condemnation of Russia’s invasion boils down to the fundamental respect of the UN charter, and honouring the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.


PM Lee agrees, stating, “The sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of all countries, big and small, must be respected. The unprovoked military invasion of a sovereign country under any pretext is unacceptable.

“We cannot condone any country arguing another country’s independence is the result of historical errors and crazy decisions.”

Because if Singapore were to ever condone such a diabolical thing, it would be jeopardising its own right to sovereignty and existence.

Historically-speaking, Singapore had been a British colony, was overtaken by the Japanese and was later part of the Malaysian Federation for a brief period in time.

That’s three unwanted contenders, and as young as Singapore may be, she likes her independence very much.


Should Putin succeed in winning the Ukrainian war and spreading his rhetoric, it could place numerous, smaller countries under threat, especially nations that were a part of the old Soviet Union era and its satellite states.

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Beneficial Economic Ties

It’s a bit difficult to wrap your head around how ingrained capitalism, bilateral economic ties, and all its quirks are, until you’ve heard the ranking list for how much a certain country invests in Singapore.

According to PM Lee, Singapore is the second-largest Asian investor in the US, while the US is the largest investor in Singapore.

It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, where Singapore invests and takes in US exports, which in turn creates jobs for a quarter million of Americans.

Since there is only profit to gain from the cooperation, Singapore and the US both pledged to ensure there is a freedom of navigation and an unhindered flow of maritime commerce in the South China Sea.

Defence Cooperation

But perhaps, the biggest role that the US plays in Singapore’s climate is defence.


Apparently, Singapore is the only country who is considered a Major Security Cooperation Partner of the US.

For more than three decades, Singapore and the US have had a long-standing memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation, which was first signed in 1990 and renewed in 2019, which grants US military access to Singapore’s air and naval air base.

The courtesy goes the other way too, where Singaporean forces are allowed to train on US soil.

Expansion in Scope of Cooperation

Besides the economic and defensive front, both leaders believe that the two countries can work together more frequently to accomplish greater things.

Among the many things mentioned (though it would be questionable if it will ever get done), are:

  • Increasing climate ambitions and decarbonising the shipping sector
  • Cooperation on cybersecurity to space exploration
  • Developing an Indo-Pacific economic framework
  • Establishing a more robust digital economy
  • Working towards sustainable development and even space

On North Korea and Ballistic Missile Weapon

Among the things discussed was the instability that was still present in the Asia region.

For one, North Korea still remains under a volatile dictatorship that has recently gotten his hands on ballistic missile weapons.

It might be a long time coming for such weaponry development, especially for a country as backwards as North Korea due to its communist rule and isolation, but both politicians agree that North Korea remains as an area of concern.

The Korean War has never reached a genuine conclusion as it remains separated at the 38th parallel, and South Korea has been an ally to both Singapore and the United States.

Wariness underlies this topic; even though Biden’s predecessor had several peace talks with Kim Jong Un during the heightening hostilities after the revelation of new weaponry, North Korea still remains a threat as it continues to arm itself.

Maybe a new peace talk in Singapore is on its way?

On Myanmar and Military Coups

Another country that was highlighted was Myanmar, owing to the fact that a military coup had broken out last year, causing a humanitarian crisis and “reversed a decade of democratic and economic progress” for its citizens.

Additionally, there is also the problem of the violent discrimination and displacement of the Rohingyas.


Singapore and the US have agreed that the military regime should be brought to a halt and implement the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus, which are:

  1. An immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar, and all parties shall exercise utmost restraint.
  2. Constructive dialogue among all involved parties should commence to seek a peaceful resolution for the people.
  3. A special envoy from ASEAN will facilitate the mediation of the dialogue process, with the support of the ASEAN Secretary-General
  4. ASEAN will provide humanitarian assistance through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management.
  5. The special envoy and delegation will visit Myanmar to meet all the parties involved.

However, progress on this front has been lagging, when negotiating with the military regime that overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s administration.

Final Conclusion

In summary, much of the discussions that have occurred revolved around enhanced cooperation in various important aspects in the shifting and ever-dynamic economy and global circumstance.

Both leaders reaffirm their commitment to upholding the UN Charter and its founding articles, standing strongly on the side of Ukraine and against Russia.

Besides that, concerns regarding the hotspots of instability in the South-East Asian were brought up, perhaps out of the knowledge that it might hinder the greater cooperation that the US intends to build with ASEAN members.

The week-long stay in the US has yet to end, and more details concerning the cooperation might be brought up soon.

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Featured Image: YouTube (CNA)