Last month I wrote about the confiscation of 9 Singapore armoured personnel carriers in Hong Kong. I state then that Singapore should just ignore China. It seems that this is exactly what the Singapore government is doing and the Chinese government seems to be caught out by Singapore’s non-action.
China’s wants from Singapore are very obvious and they had made no bones about it. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Lu Kang, openly said at a ministry briefing that “China hopes other nations, including Singapore, follow the one-China principle. This is the foundation for bilateral ties between China and any other nation.” In short, China wants Singapore to dial down or cancel military ties with Taiwan.
I can see the view from China. The sums must have seen simple to them. We have your armoured personnel carriers, you want them back, you cancel military ties with Taiwan, withdraws Singapore’s stand on the South China Sea issue, and we give them back.
However the Singapore government is refusing to play ball and instead is choosing to go the legal route. Singapore’s Foreign Minister, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, even so far as to openly say in Parliament that the Singapore Government prefers to await a legal resolution and will not enter into a dialogue with China on the issue. In short, there’s no deal to be made here. Singapore will wait.
What was a simple dish for the Chinese to eat has turned out bad as the Singapore government is showing that they are willing to make things as uncomfortable as possible for China and Hong Kong for holding on to their vehicles. Not helping the Chines is the fact that the vehicles will have to be returned to Singapore is beyond question. China cannot hold on to the vehicle forever without creating an international incident that far exceeds the value of the 9 vehicles, and the Singapore government is showing their mettle in this situation.
I fully support the Singapore government’s stand on this issue. China and Hong Kong clearly has no right to hold on to the vehicles and refusing to pay their price for getting the vehicles back is the right thing to do. Keep it up Singapore!