Barbara Walters' vapid, lower middlebrow "most fascinating people" lists never includes someone as truly interesting as Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. He has the power to bend The New York Times to his will. Every international affairs geek holds, in his or her heart, a special place for Minister Yew (A thoussand studied bows and curtsies). Responsible for "The Singapore story," Yew, a patriot and the man who built Singapore, essentially brought a Third World country into the First word. He has Mandela-level credibility on the global stage, often shuttling between world capitals, conveying vital information between the east and the West.
He's visiting China. StraitsTimes:
"Mentor Lee Kuan Yew arrives in Shanghai on Thursday at the start of a 10-day visit to China and Japan.
"The China leg, which includes Shanghai and capital Beijing, is Mr Lee's 32nd visit to the country since 1976. The trip also comes in a year when Singapore and China celebrate 20 years of diplomatic relations.
"Besides meeting top Chinese leaders such as Vice-Premier Li Keqiang and Chinese Communist Party organisation chief Li Yuanchao, Mr Lee will also tour the World Expo in Shanghai during his official visit.
"He will officiate at the opening of the Singapore pavilion at the Expo, said a statement from the Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday.
"He is also expected to hold a dialogue with top Chinese civil servants, meet Singaporeans based in China and launch the Global Chinese Dictionary, a project spearheaded by Singaporean Chinese language and culture expert Chew Cheng Hai ... On May 18, Mr Lee will leave for Tokyo where he will attend the 16th International Conference on 'The Future of Asia' organised by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun media group.
"He willl also meet Japanese political and business leaders."
The visit comes at an interesting time. While the trip was planned a while ago, it arrives at a moment when China is entering a bear market, there are grave questions about the future of the Euro, and there is a general air of decline hanging about the West.