China lodges protest with Singapore over military relations with Taiwan

China lodged a protest with Singapore after nine armored infantry carrier vehicles (IFVs) from Singapore along with other equipment were seized by Hong Kong customs on 23 November.

“China has already made representations over this to the Singapore side,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing on Monday.

Earlier on 25 November, when asked about the seized cargo, the China spokesman had reiterated that the Chinese government is firmly opposed to any forms of official interaction between Taiwan and countries that have diplomatic relations with China, military exchanges and cooperation included.

He said, “We call on Singapore to act in accordance with the laws of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in handling the matter,” Geng said. “We oppose any nations that have diplomatic ties with China to have contacts with Taiwan, including military relations,” and added, “We call on Singapore to abide by the one China principle.”

Singapore and Taiwan had been in military relations for decades with Singapore’s overseas base situated in Taiwan for oversea exercise. Far from a military secret, members of public from both Singapore and Taiwan are well-aware of the military activities between the two countries, not to mention about China’s awareness of the relationship.

Just yesterday, pro-China publication, Global Times wrote an op-ed stating that Singapore has been pretending to seek a balance between China and US but had in reality been siding with US.

It wrote, “Singapore was never a military ally of the US, but has given the green light to US military forces’ long-term presence at its Changi Naval Base as well as allowing US Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft to operate out of its airbases. This has turned Singapore into a platform for Washington to contain and deter Beijing. Singapore claimed it was not picking sides in the South China Sea disputes, but its remarks about the issue are far from neutral; instead, it has actually complicated and expanded the scale of the case.

It should be expected that a small country like Singapore has its own tactics of survival in games of major powers. The country, which used to know its boundaries, is losing its balance now. Its measures to contain China are becoming obvious. The military equipment seized by Hong Kong authorities this time further adds to the suspicion that Singapore might be working against the “one China” principle.”

Global Times, is an English-language Chinese newspaper under the People’s Daily, which is an official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party. Meaning that the comments by the newspaper is a direct taunt endorsed by the Chinese government on Singapore for its double stance on foreign policy.

On 23 November, nine Terrex IFVs of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) were detained by the Hong Kong customs last Wednesday after authorities investigated the shipment sparked off by a tip-off.

The vehicles, which had been shipped from Kao Hsiung in Taiwan, on route to Singapore, were placed on low beds and initially wrapped in various blue, grey covers.

Hong Kong-based investigative journalism site, FactWire, reported that nine armoured vehicles were seized by Hong Kong authorities after it carried out an inspection sparked by a tip-off.

A few days later, it further reported that the vessel that was carrying the vehicles and equipment had in fact stopped over at Xiamen’s Haitian Container Terminals in Fujian and that its sources at Hong Kong customs confirmed that the vessel had already been found to have contained undeclared military materials when it stopped at Xiamen.

The revelation indicated that Hong Kong authorities knew exactly what they were looking for when they boarded the vessel for a “routine inspection”.

According to FactWire’s investigation, the vessel had set off from Kaohsiung port on November 21 and arrived at Haitian Container Terminals the same day. The vessel left Xiamen on November 22 and arrived in Hong Kong on November 23. It was originally scheduled to arrive in Singapore on November 29.

Photo by Tang Chung Wang/ MingPao

Photo by Tang Chung Wang/ MingPao

 

SAF said that officials from its contracted commercial shipping line, APL have assured that they are working with the Hong Kong authorities to resolve the issue. The Singapore Consulate General in Hong Kong is also assisting in this matter.