Tensions between the U.S. and China — the world's two largest economies — have escalated in recent weeks. High-level negotiations for a trade deal stalled, and conflict between the two countries have increasingly turned toward technology centering on Chinese tech giant Huawei.
Speaking at the annual defense summit Shangri-La Dialogue, Lee said — according to a prepared speech — the world has to adjust to China's growing role on the international stage. The U.S., as the preeminent power, "has the most difficult adjustment to make," he added.
"But however difficult the task, it is well worth the U.S. forging a new understanding that will integrate China's aspirations within the current system of rules and norms," said Lee.
"The bottom line is that the U.S. and China need to work together, and with other countries too, to bring the global system up to date, and to not upend the system. To succeed in this, each must understand the other's point of view, and reconcile each other's interests," the prime minister said.
The three-day summit in Singapore gathers defense leaders around the world including U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and China's Minister of National Defense and State Councilor Wei Fenghe.