State-influenced Chinese tabloid newspaper Global Times published on Thursday evening an editorial on the “fading away” of Sino-Singaporean relations, triggered both by Singapore’s recent “alignment with the US” and China’s “growing confidence” in its own governance and development.
The report, which comes after Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan’s five-day visit to China, casts a different light on Singapore-China relations for the medium to long term.
Zhuang Guotu, head of the Center of Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, said in the report that, “China’s relation with Singapore is still better than many other bilateral ties… But as China’s influence grows, Beijing expects to be treated accordingly, and Singapore is struggling to adapt to that change.”
This is not the first time the Global Times made negative proclamations about Singapore. Last year, a strongly-worded exchange between Singapore’s ambassador to China, Stanley Loh and Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin resulted in mounting diplomatic tensions.
But the biggest impact comes from China’s growing prominence in its technical and professional expertise, which diminishes Singapore’s relevance for China as a “model” to study and emulate.
“China has greatly improved its own training capabilities and shifted much of the task of training its officials to domestic Party schools and socialist institutes,” said Zhu Lijia to the Global Times.
“Singapore’s experience inspired China decades ago but it is no longer suitable for a country so vast, populated and infinitely more complicated in social and economic issues.”
Currently, National University of Singapore (NUS) administers an executive Masters of Public Administration and Management (MPAM) exclusively for Chinese SOE owners through the LKY School of Public Policy, while Nanyang Technological University (NTU) offers Chinese mayors Masters degrees through the Nanyang Centre for Public Administration. While the Global Times article cites declining number of Chinese officials studying in Singapore, both schools do not officially release their admissions figures.