Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Little Red Dot and the Red Dragon


China Warns 'Small and Medium Size' Countries Not To Side with Big Countries: White Paper
Chinese naval aircraft carriers

A white paper released today by China on Asia-Pacific security cooperation has warned ‘small and medium size countries’ not to take sides in disputes between big countries, without naming the countries in question. The white paper, "China's Policies on Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation" was released by the State Council Information Office Wednesday on policies related to Asia-Pacific security cooperation, which also clarified the nation's stance on issues of regional concern.

"Small- and medium-sized countries need not and should not take sides among big countries," according to the white paper, Sina reported Wednesday. All countries should work toward a new dialogue system instead of confrontation, and pursue partnerships rather than alliances, according to the white paper. Outlining China's concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, the white paper explained the Chinese approach to achieving peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

The policy package includes the promotion of common development; the building of partnerships; improvement of existing multilateral frameworks; rule-setting; military exchanges; and proper settlement of differences.

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China issues white paper, warns small and medium-sized countries not to take sides

China on Wednesday (Jan 11) issued its first white paper on issues related to Asia-Pacific security cooperation.

In the 6-point proposal, reproduced in full by Xinhua, Beijing stated that "small- and medium-sized countries need not and should not take sides among big countries".

"All countries should make joint efforts to pursue a new path of dialogue instead of confrontation and pursue partnerships rather than alliances, and build an Asia-Pacific partnership featuring mutual trust, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation," the white paper read.


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China links seized vehicles to Singapore's ties with Taiwan

A spat between China and Singapore about nine armoured personnel carriers impounded in Hong Kong has intensified after Beijing suggested their release requires the island state to abandon its low-key relations with Taiwan.

The escalation comes at a key moment in Asian alliance politics, with China seeking to isolate Taiwan further by putting pressure on nations such as Singapore, with which it has friendly relations.

“China-Singapore relations have hit rock bottom,” said Shi Yinhong, an authority on China’s foreign relations at Beijing’s Renmin University. Mr Shi linked the dispute to Singapore’s trade and defence relations with Taiwan, which China regards as a renegade province, and its position on Chinese claims in the South China Sea.

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The Little Red Dot and the Red Dragon

Last week, nine armoured vehicles — Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles belonging to the Singapore Armed Forces to be more precise — were detained by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise department. They were transiting through Hong Kong’s port, on their way back to Singapore after completing a training exercise in Taiwan.

Hong Kong authorities haven’t clearly stated the reasons for the detention beyond a “Customs inspection.” But the seizure of another state’s military vehicles is not routine, and given the parties involved — Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and of course the People’s Republic of China — this is a matter of extreme sensitivity.

Singapore has long managed a brilliant balancing act on the world stage; somehow our Little Red Dot has built a very substantial military, become a global finance hub and kept just about every major power on its side.

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China returns US navy’s drone while SAF’s armoured vehicles remain seized

A US Navy buoyancy glider similar to one seized by Chinese forces. Picture credit: US Navy Photo

The Chinese government has returned to the United States of America (US) an underwater drone which it seized in the South China Sea five days ago. A statement from the Chinese Ministry of Defence said, “After friendly consultations between China and the United States, the transfer of the US underwater drone was smoothly completed.”

Meanwhile, the Singapore Armed Forces’ Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles which were seized by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department remains detained in an enclosed area. The SAF previously said that they were not provided formal reasons about why the vehicles have been detained. The shipping company engaged by SAF to transport the vehicles from a military exercise in Taiwan to Singapore had 3 unsuccessful meetings with the Chinese authorities to try and secure the release of the vehicles.

The Chinese government lodged representations to Singapore reiterating its “One-China” policy after their customs seized the armoured vehicles.

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What's behind Singapore's latest run-ins with Beijing

Singapore-China relations appear to have taken a turn for the worse.

The recent seizure of nine Singapore Armed Forces armoured vehicles in Hong Kong is the latest in a series of incidents that have made many wonder what is happening between the two countries.

Why is it that what appeared to have been acceptable in the past is now viewed by one party in a different light?

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The Terrex fallacies

3 common logical flaws can be identified from many of these commentaries. The 1st is fundamental attribution error. Hong Kong has yet to clarify the exact reasons and legal basis of its move.

The 2nd logical fallacy is an erroneous conflation of issues. For instance, Dr William Choong highlighted the other recent hiccups in the Sino-Singapore relationship, such as Singapore's recent fiasco with China's Global Times and the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement established with the United States in December last year.

Last but not least, analogies have been misused. In assuming China's involvement in the Terrex seizure, some analysts have recalled the 1994 Michael Fay caning incident and warned that Singapore should not succumb to pressure from China or any other bigger country.


Making sense of the Terrex incident

Nevertheless, it may be counter-intuitive to see the impounding of the SAF’s ICVs as business (or politics) as usual. Instead, it is likely that 2 separate political developments are part of this incident.

1st, this incident occurred in the midst of a dip in China-Singapore relations, which started after the July 12, 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea and Singapore’s subsequent response — which the Chinese interpreted as an anti-China stance. The relationship further deteriorated after Singapore’s Ambassador to Beijing, Mr Stanley Loh, issued an open letter to the editors of China’s Global Times newspaper on Sept 26, rebutting its report of the Non-Aligned Movement Summit earlier that month, which alleged that the Singapore delegation raised the issues of the South China Sea and the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling. Since then, a series of angry exchanges between the two countries, involving both public officials and private netizens, has ensued.

2nd, the election of Tsai Ing-wen as President of Taiwan clearly rankled Chinese sensibilities, judging by the number of times her Facebook account was spammed, ostensibly by Chinese netizens.


Singapore may prove a tough nut for China to crack over regional security

As the impounding of Singaporean troop carriers in Hong Kong exposes rising tensions between China and Singapore, the Lion City is unlikely to budge on core security interests concerning Beijing – its military relationship with Taiwan, worries over the South China Sea and its hosting of the U.S. military.

Singaporean officials, retired military officers and analysts stress that even while Singapore publicly plays down the spat, its leadership will not easily give in to what it sees as intimidation on matters of national importance.

All three points – Taiwan, the South China Sea and its deepening relationship with the Pentagon - reflect positions refined over decades as the tiny island state seeks to secure itself in a region now undergoing historic strategic shifts amid China's rise.

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China-Singapore tensions spill into open after customs spat

For decades, Singapore has walked a careful line between the U.S. and China. Now, the tiny Southeast Asian state is finding itself in Beijing’s cross hairs.

China has gone public in recent months to chastise Singapore for a perceived alignment with the U.S. against China’s actions in the disputed South China Sea. For Singapore, which the American Navy uses as a launch point for patrols of the strategic Strait of Malacca, the tensions cast doubt on its long-cherished ability to steer clear of political spats and focus on trade and investment.

The latest episode has the added wrinkle of Taiwan, which China considers its territory. Nine Singaporean armored personnel carriers were seized by Hong Kong customs last week, with the vehicles en route from Taiwan on a commercial ship after being used in training exercises. Singapore army chief Major General Melvyn Ong said the military was still seeking to ascertain the exact reason the vehicles were impounded.

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Under the Radar: Singapore latest to be punished by China’s opportunism
An increasingly opportunistic and edgy China is capitalizing on uncertainty surrounding America’s future in Asia under a Trump administration to punish its neighbours – from Mongolia to Taiwan to Singapore – for going against Chinese interests

Relations between Singapore and China are deteriorating as Beijing increases its assertiveness in the South China Sea and the Asia-Pacific region in general. Singapore has run afoul of Beijing as China seeks to capitalize on the uncertainty regarding Washington’s plans for Asia going forward following the election of Donald Trump. Consequently, Beijing-linked media outlets have recently criticized the micro-state for its close ties to the U.S.

While Singapore’s stated goal is to maintain amicable relations with as many countries as possible, its security agreement with the United States, which sees the country play host to American naval and aerial assets, has become a thorn in Beijing’s side. While close ties with the U.S are nothing new – indeed the U.S navy has long used Singapore as a staging area for its patrols of the Strait of Malacca, recent events have caused Beijing to become increasingly sensitive.

Firstly, Singapore’s support of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which dismissed China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, combined with its call for ASEAN unity and a diplomatic framework on the issue has put the micro-state in Beijing’s cross-hairs. More pertinently, this past week has seen a concerted effort by China to send a clear message to Singapore. Current tensions surround the seizure of nine Singaporean armoured personnel carriers (APCs) in Hong Kong. These vehicles were returning from training exercises in Taiwan, yet Chinese authorities claimed that they were not listed in the ship’s manifest.

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The special relationship with China

The relationship between China, one of the largest countries in the world, and Singapore, a little red dot in South-East Asia, has been widely regarded as special or unique. Mr Lee Kuan Yew has been instrumental in building this relationship.

Over the past few decades, China has successfully made two simultaneous transformations.

Internally, it has lifted itself from being one of the poorest economies to becoming the world’s No 2.

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FM calls on Singapore to respect China’s sea stance

China's foreign ministry called on Singapore to respect China's stance on the South China Sea issue on Tuesday, a further indication that China is upset about Singapore's enthusiasm for an increasing US presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing that China hopes countries will remain fair and objective over the South China Sea disputes.

Without mentioning the name, Geng admitted having noticed a recent Chinese newspaper report saying that Singapore had insisted on rendering the issue into the final document of the 17th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit, which was held on September 17 and 18 at Venezuela's Margarita Island. More than 100 countries attended the summit, including Vietnam and Laos.

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China’s foreign ministry joins war of words against Singapore over South China Sea dispute

The foreign ministry has blamed an unspecified “individual nation” for stirring up tensions over the South China Sea dispute after an unusual war of words broke out between the Singaporean envoy and the editor-in-chief of an influential mainland tabloid newspaper.

The incident underscores the difficulty Singapore faces in maintaining good ties with an assertive Beijing.

Without directly naming Singapore, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said an “individual nation” had insisted on including South China Sea issues in the final document of the recent Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit held in Venezuela on September 18.

related:
There may be trouble ahead for China and Singapore
The South China Sea shadow over Beijing’s ties with Singapore
Chinese diplomat tells Singapore to stay out of South China Sea disputes
Obama celebrates 50 years of US-Singapore relations with state dinner


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WHAT’S REALLY MAKING BEIJING ANGRY WITH SINGAPORE?

The argument between Singapore’s ambassador to China and the editor-in-chief of the nationalistic Chinese tabloid Global Times is less about specific actions and deeds as it is about Beijing’s growing disappointment with the tiny Asian city-state.

Until recently, the two nations – which share deep ethnic and cultural bonds – had enjoyed what was often described as a special relationship. This was manifest most clearly in two recent events – China’s rare high-profile treatment of the death of Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew in March last year and Singapore’s hosting of the historic meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping ( 習近平 ) and his Taiwanese counterpart Ma Ying-jeou last November.

But since then, mistrust has grown, spurred by the escalating rivalry between China and the United States and the landmark ruling by The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on July 12 denying Chinese claims to huge swathes of the South China Sea.

related: Troubled waters - Beijing’s ‘anger’ lurks beneath surface of Singapore-Global Times South China Sea row

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China warns PM Lee over South China Sea

An opinion piece was published on the Global Times, cautioning PM Lee Hsien Loong with regard to what he said during his recent official state visit to US. The Global Times is a daily Chinese newspaper published by the People’s Daily news group, which is the biggest newspaper group in China. This news group comes directly under the purview of the Chinese Communist Party.

News published by the group frequently provides direct information on the policies and viewpoints of the Chinese government. The Global Times was created to focus on international issues from the Chinese government’s perspective. As such, opinion pieces featured in Global Times carry considerable weight in representing the position of the Chinese government.


The piece published on 4 Aug, started by saying that President Obama had given PM Lee a grand reception, usually reserved for leaders of big countries and American allies.

related: PM Lee’s speech at White House state dinner angers China

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The new normal of Singapore’s relations with China
The death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, a muscular China and the South China Sea dispute are pushing Sino-S'pore ties into a new chapter

Up till about a year ago, relations between S'pore and China could loosely be grouped into two eras: Mao and post-Mao.

In the first, which ran from the founding of People’s Republic in 1949 to 1978, ties between the pair of new nations were mostly cold.

Beijing, under the leadership of Mao Zedong, wanted to increase the loyalty of overseas Chinese to China and did not recognise the existence of an independent Singapore up to 1970.

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Singapore-China ties -- 7 things to know about 25 years of diplomatic relations
Chinese President Mr Xi Jinping (left) with S'pore PM Lee Hsien Loong in 2010.PHOTO: ZAOBAO

S'pore and China mark 25 years of diplomatic relations this year.

On Friday (Nov 6), President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan will make their first state visit to Singapore. In many ways, the ties between Singapore, a city-state of 5.5 million, and China, a behemoth with 1.4 billion people, have been unique.

Here are seven things about the two countries' relationship.
  • HANDSHAKE SEALS THE DEAL
  • WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG?
  • BACK IN THE 1970S
  • SENDING AMBASSADORS
  • WE MEAN BUSINESS
  • JOINT PROJECTS
  • PANDA DIPLOMACY
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Singapore-China relations: A progressive partnership

Last year, S'pore and China commemorated 25 years of diplomatic relations, culminating in the exchange of state visits by Singapore President Tony Tan and Chinese President Xi Jinping. We established an All-Round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times.

Singapore and China have had interactions for many centuries. S'pore has always been part of the Maritime Silk Road. The majority of our (Singapore’s) citizens have ancestors from China. We enjoy a long-standing, wide-ranging relationship that transcends politics. The landmark visits by Singapore’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew (1976) and China’s former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping (1978) laid a strong foundation for the modern phase of our bilateral relations, prior to the establishment of formal diplomatic ties in 1990.

Lee Kuan Yew always believed that a strong China that was positively engaged with Southeast Asia would strongly benefit the region. That was why he suggested we jointly develop the Suzhou Industrial Park in 1994, our first government-to-government project, to promote the exchange of development experiences.

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Sino-Singapore Relations: Looking Back and Looking Forward

China's relations with Southeast Asia, traditionally called Nanyang ("South Sea") by the Chinese, are extensive and deep-rooted on account of history, geography and migration. After the formation of the People's Republic in 1949, the relations assumed new dimensions, with complex ideological and geo-political forces coming into play, and this gave rise to more than two decades of Cold War relations. It was not till the early 1970s, with the advent of international d閠ente, before individual Southeast Asian countries started to normalize relations with China.

Singapore is part of Southeast Asia. As such, Singapore's relations with China cannot be free from the influence of political and economic forces that have generallly shaped China's overall relations with the Southeast Asian region. When China's relations with some Southeast Asian countries became very tense during the Cold War period, this also adversely affected Singapore's relations with China.

On the other hand, Singapore's relations with China, has also been guided by a high sense of pragmatism. In separating trade from politics, pragmatism had enabled Sino-Singapore relations to survive the Cold War period. In the 1950s and 1960s when China's trade with Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand was either seriously disrupted or banned altogether, China's trade with Singapore continued uninterrupted. In fact, for three decades from 1950 to 1990, Sino-Singapore trade was conducted in the absence of a formal diplomatic framework


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Singapore-China Relations: Past, Present and Future

Singapore and China have just celebrated the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. It is therefore an opportune moment to take stock of this important relationship.

The People's Republic of China was established in 1949. The Republic of Singapore was established in 1965. From 1965 until the late 1970s, political relations between China and Singapore were unfriendly and acrimonious. China, under Chairman Mao, was a revolutionary country. It sought to export revolution to Southeast Asia and gave both material and moral support to the communist parties and their armed struggles. The leaders of Singapore were often condemned as the running dogs of the imperialists.

Ending of the Mao Era - Things began to improve following the successful visits to China by Singapore's Foreign Minister, Mr S Rajaratnam, in 1975 and by Singapore's Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, in 1976. Mr Lee called on Chairman Mao shortly before he passed away that year. In 1978, Deng Xiaoping, the new defacto leader of China, visited Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. I believe that his heart-to-heart talk with Mr Lee Kuan Yew, in Singapore, convinced him to change China's policy towards the region. In his memoirs, Mr Lee recounted that exhortations for the overthrow of governments in South-east Asia from broadcasting stations in China stopped a year after his meeting with Deng in Singapore in November 1978.

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People's Republic of China

Singapore enjoys strong and substantive relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), anchored by a steady flow of high-level visits, multifaceted cooperation, growing people-to-people exchanges, and robust economic ties.

Since 2013, China has been Singapore’s largest trading partner, and Singapore has been China’s largest foreign investor. Singapore and China have established three Government-to-Government projects – (i) the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park; (ii) the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City; and (iii) the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity (Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, CCI) – as well as several private sector-led, government-supported initiatives such as the Guangzhou Knowledge City, the Singapore-Sichuan Hi-Tech Innovation Park, the Nanjing Eco High-Tech Island, and the Jilin Food Zone. At the provincial level, we have seven provincial business and economic councils with Sichuan, Shandong, Liaoning, Zhejiang, Tianjin, Guangdong and Jiangsu. Since the mid-1990s, more than 50,000 Chinese officials have come to Singapore for various study visits and training programmes.

In 2015, Singapore and China celebrated the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations and released a Joint Statement that characterised bilateral relations as an “All-Round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times”. Following PRC President Xi Jinping’s State Visit to Singapore in 2015, both sides agreed to launch negotiations to upgrade the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA) with the aim of concluding negotiations by the end of 2016. The CSFTA, which came into effect in 2009, was the first bilateral FTA that China had concluded with an Asian country. The launch of the CCI, our third Government-to-Government project, was also announced after President Xi’s visit. The CCI will comprise four pillars: financial services, aviation, transport and logistics, and information and communications technology.

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Singapore-China relations

Showcasing the substantive and multi-faceted Singapore–China relationship, this book examines the political, economic, socio-cultural, people-to-people and even military exchanges between the two countries. It also highlights flagship projects and other key private sector-led projects that have become hallmarks of bilateral cooperation.

The book argues that the current level of cooperation is built on the earlier foundation laid by Lee Kuan Yew and Deng Xiaoping. In a way, the bilateral relationship is a unique one. For one, Deng Xiaoping had singled out Singapore as a model for China's reforms and China today continues to find Singapore's experience relevant. Singapore is also learning from China in the process. The two countries also have a number of bilateral institutional mechanisms that have become more important in reviewing existing cooperation and identifying new ways of working together.

Rather than simply provide an overview of bilateral relations, the book highlights the unique or distinguishing features of the Singapore–China relationship.

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Singapore-China ties: A progressive partnership

Last year, Singapore and China commemorated 25 years of diplomatic relations, culminating in the exchange of state visits by Singapore President Tony Tan and Chinese President Xi Jinping. We established an All-Round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times.

Singapore and China have had interactions for many centuries. Singapore has always been part of the Maritime Silk Road. The majority of our (Singapore's) citizens have ancestors from China. We enjoy a long-standing, wide-ranging relationship that transcends politics. The landmark visits by Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew (1976) and China's former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping (1978) laid a strong foundation for the modern phase of our bilateral relations, prior to the establishment of formal diplomatic ties in 1990.

Lee Kuan Yew always believed that a strong China that was positively engaged with Southeast Asia would strongly benefit the region. That was why he suggested we jointly develop the Suzhou Industrial Park in 1994, our first government-to-government project, to promote the exchange of development experiences.

read more

Sino-Singapore Relations

China and Singapore are good neighbors, and the friendship between our countries and peoples is rooted in history. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between China and Singapore.

Over the past 25 years, thanks to the joint efforts from both sides, our bilateral relations have enjoyed fast and ever-deepening growth in an all-round way, and mutually beneficial cooperation has achieved fruitful outcomes in areas like economy and trade, investment, finance, social governance and cultural and people-to-people exchanges. Looking into the future, China-Singapore friendship boasts great potential and broad prospect, and is about to enter a new era of rapid growth.

The Chinese embassy in Singapore is committed to promoting continued growth of our friendship and all-round cooperation. We sincerely hope this website will be your friend and serve as a window on China and China-Singapore relations and also a bridge of friendship between our peoples.

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Beijing seeks to cement relations with Singapore

Beijing says it hopes Singapore can play a constructive role for peace and stability in the region, as it welcomes the country's prime minister who has been caught in a media storm recently for his China-related remarks.


Welcoming his Singaporean counterpart, Premier Li Keqiang told Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that China is determined to seek peaceful development.

But the country's will to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity is unswerving, said Li, referring to territorial disputes with some neighboring countries.

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Relations between China and Singapore


China and Singapore established diplomatic relations on 3 October 1990.


After the founding of New China, Singapore, then under the rule of British colonial authorities, maintained people-to-people trade relations with China. The contacts between the two countries began to increase since mid-70s.The two sides established their Commercial Representatives' Offices in each other's country in 1981 and started their air service in 1985.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations of the two countries, President Yang Shangkun (in 1993), President Jiang Zemin (in 1994), Chairman of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Li Ruihuan (in 1995) and Premier Li Peng (in 1997) from China visited Singapore. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (in 1990), President Wee Kim Wee (in 1991), Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew (in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2000), Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong (in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997 and 2000), President Ong Teng Cheong (in 1995), Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (in 1995 and 2000) and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defense Tony Tan Keng Yam (in 1997) from Singpore visited China.

Singapore has Consulates-General in Shanghai, Xiamen and Hong Kong.

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Singapore-China ties 'going strong'

Singapore-China ties will remain strong even after the death of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam, after he became only the second Singapore leader after Mr Lee to be conferred an honorary doctorate in China.

"Mr Lee's passing marks the end of an era but it does not mean the end of strong China-Singapore relations," Dr Tan said yesterday in response to a question from a student at Nankai University. The institution conferred the doctorate on Dr Tan for his contribution to bilateral ties.

"We have established other platforms. Our ministers meet very frequently, many delegations of officials from China visit Singapore, and from Singapore to China, to learn from each other."


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China–Singapore relations


People's Republic of China – Singapore relations officially started on October 3, 1990. Diplomatic missions were established in the early 1990s based on trade and the warming of ties from other ASEAN countries towards mainland China.


Historic links between the two nations' people began much earlier than the founding of the People's Republic of China in October 1949. Migrant Chinese labourers escaping poverty and war came to what was known as Nanyang to the Chinese to Singapore, which was part of the Straits Settlements. Many ethnic Chinese Singaporeans derived their ancestral roots in southern China from Fujian, Guangdong and Hainan provinces.

During British rule in Singapore and then under British Malaya before independence, Singapore and the Republic of China had diplomatic relations. When Singapore became independent in 1965 from Malaysia, it continued to recognise the Republic of China as the legitimate government of China. In the 1970s, People's Republic of China and Singapore began unofficial relations. This led to the exchange of Commercial Representatives' Offices between the two nations in 1981. In 1985, commercial air services between mainland China and Singapore commenced.

Diplomatic ties between the two countries officially began in 1990. Singapore was the last country in South East Asia to formally recognise the People's Republic of China out of respect to Indonesia, sensitivities in the region and fears from neighbouring countries of communism in those times. Singapore still maintains unofficial relations with the ROC, including the continuation of a controversial military training and facilities agreement from 1975. This is due to a lack of usable space in built-up Singapore. The People's Republic of China has proposed that Singapore relocate some of its training facilities from Taiwan to Hainan province, however Singapore has not as of yet accepted such an offer.

Bilateral ties took a dive when Singapore's deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong travelled to Taiwan for a private visit in 2004. The People's Republic of China took offence to the trip as due to the complicated political status of the region Later in 2004, Chinese government put bilateral relations on hold.


Relations between the two countries gradually improved as China and Singapore forged agreements in free trade, education, foreign investment and technology. Examples are the Suzhou Industrial Park and the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city, which were constructed with the help of Singapore.

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Singapore and China

Singapore enjoys strong and substantive relations with China, anchored by a steady flow of high-level visits, strengthening economic ties, and growing people-to-people exchanges. Over the past year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Minister for Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam and other Ministers made separate visits to China. From the Chinese side, Politburo Standing Committee Member and Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, Poliburo Members Zhao Leji and Sun Chunlan, Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi and Anhui Party Secretary Zhang Baoshun visited Singapore. In October 2013, Deputy Prime Minister Teo and Vice Premier Zhang co-chaired the 10th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation as well as Joint Steering Councils for both the Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-city. The growing people-to-people exchanges between the two countries are supplemented by on-going programmes in Human Resource Development (HRD) cooperation. Both sides also enjoy close cooperation in regional and international fora.

Singapore and China continue to enjoy robust economic ties. In 2013, China became Singapore's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade in 2013 rising 11.0% from the previous year to S$115.2 billion.  As of 2012, China remained our top investment destination. Besides our two flagship government-to-government projects – the Suzhou Industrial Park and the Tianjin Eco-city – we have also stepped up economic engagement with China at the provincial level through our seven provincial councils in Sichuan, Shandong, Liaoning, Zhejiang, Tianjin, Guangdong, and Jiangsu. Both sides have also strengthened economic links through private sector-led initiatives such as the Guangzhou Knowledge City, the Singapore-Sichuan Hi-Tech Innovation Park, and the Jilin Food Zone. The China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA), which came into effect in January 2009, is the first comprehensive bilateral FTA that China has concluded with an Asian country. Singapore and China have also agreed to enhance financial services cooperation under the CSFTA.

Going beyond the traditional parameters of economic cooperation, Singapore and China are also exploring new spheres of collaboration in education, culture, social management and finance. Some recent initiatives include the Singapore-China Forum on Social Management, the education and research collaboration between the Singapore University of Technology and Design, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Zhejiang University, and the establishment of the China Cultural Centre in Singapore. Singapore also welcomed the arrival of the two Giant Pandas, Kai Kai and Jia Jia, in September 2012.

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Singapore risks being left out of the loop on B&R regional integration

Delegates from over 130 countries gathered in Beijing to discuss cooperation, trade and development at the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation recently. Right after the conference ended, it came to light that Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had not been present at the forum. Media speculated that Lee was not invited by China. For seasoned Asia-watchers, it was a watershed moment in regional affairs and marked the end of the era of amicable ties that Lee's father, Lee Kuan Yew, had so painstakingly nurtured with Asia's economic superpower.

What this means is that China no longer regards Singapore as a friend. Despite cordial links with the elder Lee's government, one thing had long irked Beijing: the offer by Singapore of its supremely strategic location to the US for military activities in the region. But other aspects of the relationship were healthy enough that the Chinese overlooked not just that, but even Singapore's military cooperation with Taiwan. Moreover, China understood that Singapore, with no natural resources, needed to keep sound ties with the US in order to survive and prosper. The Chinese readily accepted the island state's policy of political equidistance between China and the US.

Since 2011, however, the Americans have intensified their campaign to contain China, in the guise of its "pivot" to Asia. Simultaneously, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has junked his father's judicious balancing act and turned his country almost into a de facto military base for the US Navy. His words, and those of his ministers, have become increasingly, even enthusiastically, pro-US and China-skeptical, if not outright anti-China.

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China no longer regards Singapore as a friend: pro-Beijing newspaper

Singapore Prime Minister’s absence from the One Belt One Road forum held in China earlier in May is “a watershed moment in regional affairs and marked the end of the era of amicable ties that Lee’s father, Lee Kuan Yew, had so painstakingly nurtured with Asia’s economic superpower.”

This was the view of “seasoned Asia-watchers”, said the pro-Beijing newspaper, The Global Times.

For the uninitiated, The Global Times is regarded as the vehicle whose “messages are a transmission from within the heart of CCP power.”

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5 ways China can sink our economy
Picture

LET'S NOT BEAT around the bush. PM Lee Hsien Loong's absence at the New Silk Road summit currently taking place in China is a big deal.

Was he not invited or did he elect not to attend (and despatched National Development Minister Lawrence Wong instead)? The former seems the more plausible account. Either way, the development can only be described as doomy.

The summit, attended by 28 heads of government, is Beijing's way of announcing its intention of breaking out from under the United State's world domination, at least in the sphere of trade and commerce. Here are are five ways Beijing is doing this:
  • Melaka Gateway
  • East Coast Railway Line (ECRL)
  • New Silk Road
  • Arctic Route
  • Kra Canal

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China Frictions May See Singapore Miss Out on Belt-Road Billions
China’s plan for a maritime “Silk Road” to Europe is helping channel funds to Southeast Asia for roads, railways and ports. But amid the deals bonanza, one country risks missing out

Despite strong historical and cultural ties to China, the tiny state of Singapore has found itself in Beijing’s crosshairs, in part for its stance over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. As other Southeast Asian leaders lined up to meet President Xi Jinping at a summit in Beijing this week for his Belt-and-Road Initiative, Singapore was represented by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

China views Singapore as being less supportive of Xi’s plan because unlike other countries that announced their leaders would attend without requiring a formal invitation, Singapore sought an invite, according to people familiar with the matter. They asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information.
“The cooler political relationship between Singapore and China could have ripple effects which influence economic and trade relations,” said Lu Jianren, a researcher at the China-Asean Research Institute at China’s Guangxi University. “Singapore has been less proactive to work with China while many leaders in the region showed greater enthusiasm that they want Beijing to be more involved in Southeast Asian growth.”
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. “I wouldn’t say we have major problems; we’ve had some issues and some incidents,” Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said of China, in an interview aired by the BBC in March.

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Singapore risks being left out of the loop on B&R regional integration

Indeed, on a visit to the US White House in 2013, Lee saw fit to joke about pig soup and pollution at China's expense.

In Chinese, if not Asian culture and diplomatic protocol, this was a big faux pas - all the more so as it occurred in the capital of China's No. 1 strategic rival.

Too often, Singapore, then at the height of its prosperity, seemed to be flaunting its new orientation, without regard for Chinese sensibilities

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WHAT BELT AND ROAD SNUB MEANS FOR SINGAPORE’S TIES WITH CHINA
Not invited: Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Photo: AFP
Not invited Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Photo: AFP

China’s decision not to invite Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to last weekend’s Belt and Road Forum highlights the still-strained ties between the two countries, observers say, though officials in the Lion City have tried to shrug off talk of any diplomatic rift.

Of the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) members, only three countries were not represented by their heads of government at the high-level summit in Beijing: Singapore, Thailand and Brunei. Twenty-nine national leaders and the representatives of 28 other countries attended the two-day meeting to discuss the China-led initiative to rebuild the ancient Silk Road trade route through a network of new ports, railways and roads.

The Singapore delegation was led by national development minister Lawrence Wong. In an interview with travelling Singaporean media, Wong revealed that the invitations were decided by China. It was the first official acknowledgement that Lee was not invited.

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3 myths about Singapore-China ties
Much chatter online & off has taken place on why Singapore's PM Lee Hsien Loong did not attend the inaugural Belt & Road Forum in Beijing last weekend

The event organised by China had heads of state & government from 29 countries attending, including 7 out of 10 from Asean. Singapore was represented by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

2 schools of thought prevailed: China snubbed Singapore. No, it was Singapore that didn't want to take part.

3 myths floating out there that merit being plucked from the ocean of misinformation & tossed into the incinerator:
  • SINGAPORE HAS CHANGED ITS STANCE ON CHINA AND NOW ALIGNS ITSELF MORE OVERTLY WITH THE UNITED STATES
  • SINGAPORE IS A CHINESE SOCIETY AND SHOULD BE MORE SYMPATHETIC TO CHINA
  • CHINA IS OUT TO PUNISH SINGAPORE, AND SINGAPOREANS SHOULD FEEL WORRIED ABOUT THIS AND PRESSURE THE SINGAPORE GOVERNMENT TO BE MORE ACCOMMODATING OF CHINA

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One Belt, One Road, One Singapore – Analysis
Main routes of the Silk Road. Source: Wikipedia Commons.

In the 14th century, Mongol dominance in Asia resulted in the Pax Mongolica, a framework of peaceful trading relationships straddling the Maritime and Overland Silk Roads, allowing the Kingdom of Singapura to flourish into a wealthy entrepot trading port.

Today, the two roads are severed, and trade between Central Asia and Singapore is tiny, much more so for non-oil merchandise. The low volume of trade is evident considering Central Asia’s landlocked position presents a significant barrier of trade to the maritime trading hub that is Singapore. Today, China’s One Belt-One Road (OBOR) initiative promises to direct international attention to regional infrastructure development, effectively resurrecting a new Pax Sinica.

This new economic paradigm could well create exciting new opportunities for Singaporean trade and investment in an untapped region. This report will focus on Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and the ways Singapore can capitalize on its unique expertise in the OBOR initiative.

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China no longer regards Singapore as a friend: pro-Beijing newspaper

Singapore Prime Minister’s absence from the One Belt One Road forum held in China earlier in May is “a watershed moment in regional affairs and marked the end of the era of amicable ties that Lee’s father, Lee Kuan Yew, had so painstakingly nurtured with Asia’s economic superpower.”

This was the view of “seasoned Asia-watchers”, said the pro-Beijing newspaper, The Global Times.

For the uninitiated, The Global Times is regarded as the vehicle whose “messages are a transmission from within the heart of CCP power.”

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PM Lee not invited to Belt and Road forum, is S’pore in trouble?

The high-profile “Belt and Road” Forum recently held in Beijing from May 14 to 15, attended by 29 national leaders and the representatives of 28 other countries, captured the world’s attention with Chinese President Xi Jinping pledging to splash the cash to help revive ancient trade routes and build infrastructure across the region.

The amount of investment planned so far for the initiative is massive – over US$1 trillion.

Even more trade and investment plans – US$113 billion-worth – was announced at the forum on top of previous commitments. It is no wonder that, China’s growing political and economic dominance coupled with the scope of “Belt and Road” has sparked concerns of possible debt-trap diplomacy among countries that have benefited or will benefit from China’s ambitious regional agenda.

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What China’s snub of Singapore means

But while nearly half of the 57 countries were not represented by their heads of government, foreign policy experts said Lee’s absence was conspicuous as it provided clues on the extent of the fallout following a protracted diplomatic spat between the two countries over the past year.

Xue Li, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences think tank, said China’s decision not to invite the Singaporean leader reflected a growing belief in Beijing that the Lion City sought only economic benefits from China, while “relying on the US for security”.

“China is gradually recognising this and therefore doesn’t really care if the Singapore PM attended or not,” Xue said.

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Singapore May Miss Out on Belt-Road Billions
China Snub Means Singapore May Miss Out on Belt-Road Billions

China’s plan for a maritime “Silk Road” to Europe is helping channel funds to Southeast Asia for roads, railways and ports.

But amid the deals bonanza, one country risks missing out. Despite strong historical and cultural ties to China, the tiny state of Singapore has found itself in Beijing’s crosshairs, in part for its stance over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

As other Southeast Asian leaders lined up to meet President Xi Jinping at a summit in Beijing this week for his Belt-and-Road Initiative, Singapore was represented by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong. China views Singapore as being less supportive of Xi’s plan.

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How China snubbed Singapore at the Belt and Road summit

Among the 29 Heads of State who converged on Beijing for the Belt and Road Summit earlier this week were leaders of seven of the ten ASEAN states. One leader was noticeably missing: Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Various observers have noted this absence, including Hugh White, who suggested it was no co-incidence that, like others - Japan, India, Australia and ‘most western countries’ - who had not sent their national leaders to Beijing, Singapore was aligned with the US and uneasy about China’s rise – ‘or perceived to be so’.

However, it has since emerged that Singapore was never given the choice. China had not invited Singapore’s prime minister in the first place. This is surprising, especially as Singapore has been one of the biggest advocates of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). While many other states were initially hesitant in signing up to BRI, including some of its ASEAN neighbours, Singapore’s support has been unequivocal from the beginning. Many high-level co-operation talks between China and Singapore on the subject have taken place, with both sides warmly welcoming cooperation on BRI.

In light of this past co-operation, Beijing’s snub is significant. It is fair to conclude that, if China continues to freeze out Singapore, there could be significant implications on at least three levels:
  • What it might mean for Sino-Singapore relations
  • Implications for other middle powers
  • Implications for China’s role in the world

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PM Lee’s absence in B&R forum in Beijing – is China still throwing a tantrum?

The reply by Minister of National Development, Lawrence Wong, was a curious and perhaps a telling one.

When asked by reporters on Tuesday why Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was not attending the Belt and Road forum in Beijing, Mr Wong said “the invitation was decided by the Chinese”, according to the Straits TimesMr Wong did not seem to have elaborated on his answer.

PM Lee’s absence has not gone unnoticed, given how several leaders from Asean countries were among the 29 heads of states who apparently were invited and attended the forum which ran from 14-15 May. Considering that the forum was also an important one, for China especially, the fact that PM Lee was not there is quite curious. After all, Singapore and China share, at least according to official statements, “deep ties’.

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Will Singapore be the biggest loser from China's One-Belt-One-Road initiative given that its trade routes can be bypassed?

As a Singaporean, I am worried. China is doing what is in her interests.

So, even if Singapore ends up being destroyed, we have ourselves to blame for not responding to this threat.

Don’t blame China. It would be nice if answers can suggest how Singapore can adapt to this threat.

related: Will Singapore falter after One belt one road initiative?

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One Belt, One Road – Analysis

In 2015, Singapore exported US$61.3 million worth of goods and services to Central Asia, while importing US$6.1 million, representing 0.015 percent of Singapore’s total exports and 0.002 percent of total imports; and 0.07 percent of Central Asia’s total exports and 0.009 percent of total imports.

While Singapore is a global trading and investment powerhouse, business experience and exposure in Central Asia has never been strong. In 2014, only 32 enterprises in Uzbekistan operated with Singaporean capital, and Singapore contributed only US$50 million of direct investment to Kazakhstan over the last ten years in contrast to US$604 billion of total foreign direct investment in 2014 alone.

Central Asia is not directly connected to Singapore, and land routes to ports in the region are scant. However, as the One Road-One Belt Initiative links Central Asia to China’s eastern seaboard, Gwadar port and even the impending sanction-free Iran; inter-regional trade is awash with new connections and opportunities.

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South China Morning Post SCMP 19 hrs
Why wasn't Singapore's PM Lee Hsien Loong invited to China's Belt and Road Summit?

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China's Belt and Road project could bring opportunities and challenges to S'pore: Minister Lawrence Wong

When asked why Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong did not attend the Belt & Road Forum, which was attended by 29 heads of state & government, including many from South-east Asia, Mr Wong said the invitation was decided by the Chinese.

He noted that the focus of the forum was on outbound investments, & in getting Chinese investments abroad and encouraging Chinese companies to go overseas.

"We don't have any specific projects as of now that may be part of this Belt & Road (initiative) in terms of infrastructure," he said.

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The PM wasn’t invited to Beijing

IT DIDN’T escape notice that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wasn’t at the biggest diplomatic event held in China over the weekend. The guest list was filled with luminaries including his counterparts in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. There were in all 29 heads of state or government. Singapore was represented instead by Minister Lawrence Wong.
Asked why the PM Lee wasn’t there, he said that the invitation was decided by the Chinese.
So on Sunday, PM Lee was giving out flowers to his Ang Mo Kio constituents on the occasion of Mother’s Day, rather than hobnobbing with other leaders over what seemed to be the most ambitious economic project in recent time.

His absence in Beijing is intriguing and only serves to raise questions about whether Singapore and China had papered over their differences since the seizure of Singapore Armed Forces vehicles by Hong Kong authorities in November last year. Or are the Chinese still pissed off at Singapore’s lack of empathy over its position on the South China Sea?

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Straits Times: 3 myths about Singapore-China ties
“First, Singapore hasn’t changed in its foreign policy. It is China that has changed its view and demands on Singapore.”

China’s investments in Malaysia take “decades” to be developed:
  • "As for the Belt and Road displacing the Malacca Strait as the premier shipping belt, it would take many more years for that to happen, if not decades. Meanwhile, even as port projects are being planned around Malaysia and Indochina – presumably as alternatives to Singapore – port planners here aren’t keeping still. Singapore was named maritime capital of the world for the third time this year.”
  • "At the same time, China is still far too dependent on imports through the Malacca Strait to seriously oppose Singapore. The seizing of goods in ports can, after all, easily be done by both parties."
  • “China does not have much power to put Singapore back in line, as Chinese economic statecraft so far has been relatively unsuccessful. Singapore is also in a very different position from its neighbouring countries as it manages an advanced economy and many international security relationships across the world.”

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OBOR International Forum Vs Mother's Day

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong not invited
The Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo and Malaysia’s Najib Razak in a photo shared on Najib’s Twitter account. Photo: Twitter

According to China state media South China Morning Post (SCMP), the China central government has confirmed that Lee Hsien Loong was deliberately left out of the invitation at the Belt and Road forum.

Of the 10 ASEAN countries, Singapore Prime Minister’s absence is painfully conspicuous because Singapore is supposed to take over the ASEAN Chairmanship next year (2018).

When interviewed by a foreign media why he was not invited to the China meeting, Lee Hsien Loong gave an awkward silence.


Singapore China G-to-G Projects
Chinese President Xi Jinping giving a speech at the state banquet held in his honour at the Istana on Nov 6, 2015.ST FOTO: KOR KIAN BENG

The 3d Singapore-China government-led project will be based in Chongqing, Chinese President Xi Jinping said at a state banquet at the Istana on Friday (Nov 6).

"During my visit, the 2 sides will officially launch the third project based in Chongqing," Mr Xi said.

The bilateral project will be on the theme of "modern connectivity and modern services", and could help lower the cost of doing business in China's western region.

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Singapore military vehicles seizure in Hong Kong

Multiple ministers have sought to downplay the ongoing friction between Singapore and China regarding the seizure of nine military vehicles belonging to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in Hong Kong.

Various publications report that Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen called for caution in speculating why Hong Kong customs offloaded and detained the shipment of Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles while en route from Taiwan to Singapore.

Many have postulated that it's part of Beijing's ploy to browbeat Singapore in the several matters, including the city-state's position on the South China Sea dispute and the continuing military ties with Taiwan — a nation that the Chinese government regards as a breakaway province.


Singapore rebuts Global Times report on South China Sea ruling
Singapore denies supporting the Philippines' push for arbitration over the territory's ownership

Beijing should make Singapore "pay the price for seriously damaging China's interests" with retaliations and sanctions, an influential Chinese military advisor has said.

Professor Jin Yinan, of the Public Liberation Army's National Defence University, made the remarks on Chinese-state radio on Thursday (29 September), reported the South China Morning Post.

The statement is the latest offensive in an on-going war of words over the South China Sea dispute after the Global Times, a Chinese newspaper, reported that Singapore endorsed the Philippines' case to bring international arbitration against China.


Singapore-China-US Relations

China's foreign ministry called on Singapore to respect China's stance on the South China Sea issue on Tuesday, a further indication that China is upset about Singapore's enthusiasm for an increasing US presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing that China hopes countries will remain fair and objective over the South China Sea disputes.

Without mentioning the name, Geng admitted having noticed a recent Chinese newspaper report saying that Singapore had insisted on rendering the issue into the final document of the 17th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit, which was held on September 17 and 18 at Venezuela's Margarita Island. More than 100 countries attended the summit, including Vietnam and Laos.

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Singapore Stumbles on China's Road
China Frictions May See Singapore Miss Out on Belt-Road Billions

Despite strong historical and cultural ties to China, the tiny state of Singapore has found itself in Beijing’s crosshairs, in part for its stance over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. As other Southeast Asian leaders lined up to meet President Xi Jinping at a summit in Beijing this week for his Belt-and-Road Initiative, Singapore was represented by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

China views Singapore as being less supportive of Xi’s plan because unlike other countries that announced their leaders would attend without requiring a formal invitation, Singapore sought an invite, according to people familiar with the matter. They asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information.
“The cooler political relationship between Singapore and China could have ripple effects which influence economic and trade relations,” said Lu Jianren, a researcher at the China-Asean Research Institute at China’s Guangxi University. “Singapore has been less proactive to work with China while many leaders in the region showed greater enthusiasm that they want Beijing to be more involved in Southeast Asian growth.”
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. “I wouldn’t say we have major problems; we’ve had some issues and some incidents,” Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said of China, in an interview aired by the BBC in March.

read more

related:
Key to success of the Maritime Silk Road
Singapore - China Bilateral Ties
Singapore-India Relations
Singapore-China-US Relations
"Singapore - US" Bilateral Ties