Many nations around the world find themselves in a delicate balancing act between U.S. and Chinese interests, but one island nation perhaps typifies that struggle.
Singapore is a hub for global finance and trade, and so its relationships with the world's two largest economies are vital to its survival. Speaking with CNBC on Thursday, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shed light on the balance between the U.S. and China in a changing geopolitical landscape.
"Well, it's never easy to be a small country next to a big neighbor," Lee said.
"If you have one big neighbor only, that's not easy to manage. If you have two big neighbors, well in some ways you have more friends, but in other ways you have to make more difficult choices," Lee added.
Singapore's relationship with the two global giants, he said, also "depends on how the U.S. relationship with China develops," he said.
"If there are tensions between America and China, we will be asked to pick a side. It may not be directly, but you will get the message that: 'We would like you to be with us, and are you with us? If not, does that mean you're against us?' And that's to put it gently," he added.
Singapore however, does not wish to "pick sides," he said.
Lee spoke with CNBC ahead of his visit to the U.S. where he is set to meet President Donald Trump at the White House on Oct. 23.
U.S. and Singapore have had economic, military and diplomatic ties since 1966 — a year after the city-state's independence. Late Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew – the current prime minister's father — developed close personal relationships with American politicians including diplomat Henry Kissinger and President Richard Nixon.
Singapore policymakers have also long sought military cooperation with the U.S. because they believed a strong American military presence would add to stability in Asia.
In August last year, President Barack Obama hosted a state dinner for current Prime Minister Lee.
China and Singapore, meanwhile, established official relations in 1990 — although the elder Lee first visited the East Asian giant in 1976 and met every Chinese Communist Party leader from Mao Zedong to current President Xi Jinping.