By Isaac Stone Fish
The steward of the fastest-growing economy in the world, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is a master at risk management. In the lead-up to the global financial crisis, Singapore's institutions mostly avoided troubled assets, saving the country the banking shock that hit other nations. Global credit insurers such as France's Coface now rate Singapore as the safest place to do business in Asia. In foreign policy, Lee's managed to carve out a role as friend to all the big powers in the region. China wants to emulate Singapore's feat of liberalizing the economy while maintaining one-party rule. And Lee's close political and economic relationship with Beijing has given him the room to do things that might otherwise rankle China. This April, he pushed Beijing to allow the yuan to strengthen. He also just announced free-trade talks with Taiwan. If Singapore can manage to reduce tensions with its immediate neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia, expect a decade or more of smooth sailing for the country under the indomitable Lee.