The most important sense one can bring to the practice of foreign policy is that of balance. This lesson was instilled in me by Singapore's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew. Beginning in the early 1990s, Lee granted me a series of interviews, conducted at roughly three-year intervals. Each time we met, Lee would hone my perspective on international politics.

In particular, Lee's "isosceles triangle" theory on relations among Japan, the United States and China deserves renewed appreciation today. Lee said: "Relations between Japan, the U.S. and China are most stable when they take the form of an isosceles triangle. This means maintaining a triangular configuration in which U.S.-Japan ties are closer than either Sino-Japanese relations or Sino-American relations."

The traditional balance within the Asia-Pacific region is at the beginning of precipitous upheaval. This is keenly reflected in the delicate and tense relationship between Singapore and China. Several recent incidents demonstrate the changing nature of this relationship.