"I think if you see China as a threat, that is going to be a very big problem because then you are creating a threat and the struggle will continue. China is not going to collapse the way the Soviet Union did. China should be seen as an issue where you have to develop a constructive relationship. You will compete, disagree maybe on rights issues, but you will also have other areas where you do have to work together", Lee said in his address to the Davos Agenda virtual event as part of the World Economic Forum.
According to the prime minister, Washington considers China to be a challenger because, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US was the world's single hyper-power, making it difficult for the US to adjust its policy towards the Asian country, Lee said.
"To persuade the other side is one challenge, but to persuade all people [of the United States] — the population, Congress, intelligence — it takes leadership of a very high order", the official added.
Relations between Washington and Beijing fell to the lowest point under the presidency of Donald Trump, who started his term with a so-called trade war with the Asian country by slapping steep tariffs on Chinese goods.
The former US leader also repeatedly blamed Beijing for failing to stop the coronavirus pandemic from spreading around the world. In response, the Chinese authorities introduced reciprocal tariffs on US goods and traded hostile statements with senior officials of the Trump administration.