Chinese, Singaporean Fms Discuss Ties, Cooperation

China–Singapore relations

In November 2016, China seized nine armored vehicles that Singapore had shipped through Hong Kong on their return from a training exercise on Taiwan. It also marked a low point in Singapore’s relationship with China, which has long been a special one despite the dramatic size imbalance between the two countries. Reservations about China’s military power and involvement in their country’s politics also tie into how people see China. Those who say China’s military power is a very serious problem for their country are more inclined to see China unfavorably in most countries.

  • Arrivals by short-term visitors were quickly blocked, and returning residents have been required to stay in government-provided hotel rooms for fourteen days.
  • On the other hand, about three-quarters or more in South Korea, Japan and Australia describe bilateral relations with China as bad.
  • Singapore has made its difference in positions known to Beijing both privately and publicly.
  • Much of the divergence is over issues relating to the South China Sea, despite the fact that Singapore is not party to the sovereignty disputes.
  • Zelenskyy offered a powerful call for countries to band together to defend principles of sovereignty and peaceful resolution of disputes and to oppose the normalization of large countries imposing their will on smaller neighbors.
  • The Malacca Strait is one of the busiest shipping routes in the world, with more than 120,000 ships passing through annually, linking major economies such as China and Japan.
  • More recently, Singapore has broadly refrained from commenting on great powers matters.

Indicative of the cooling of Singapore-China relations over the past few years has been the rising criticism of Singapore in China’s state-controlled press. An increasingly common refrain in Chinese media outlets is the critique that Singapore has been siding with the United States against the People’s Republic of China over the South China Sea disputes. Topping this wave was a debate between Singapore’s ambassador to China, Stanley Loh, and the editor-in-chief of China’s Global Times, Hu Xijin, which played out over several issues of that newspaper. In contention was the assertion by the Global Times that Singapore’s mention of the rule of law in the South China Sea during the 2016 Non-Aligned Movement summit in Venezuela was intended to signal a siding with Washington against Beijing. Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding father, said that mainland Chinese and their Singaporean cousins may share the same ethnicity and language.

Chapter 1: China

Analysis of this incident suggests a direct connection to the issues discussed during Rajaratnam’s 1975 Singapore Goodwill Mission. Although Singapore has maintained a policy of recognising the PRC as the one China, the joint military exercises with Taiwan have been interpreted as one way for Singapore to express a measure of independence from and resistance to Chinese political influence. This outrage in response to Soviet overtures in Southeast Asia led directly to a significant warming of China’s attitude towards Singapore. This dramatic shift is reflected in the tone of articles, which change China–Singapore relations from polemics boldly attacking the Singaporean regime to benign news reports expressing friendship. This trip represented the beginning of friendly exchanges between Singapore and China that set the precedent for future visits of a diplomatic nature, just as Ping-Pong Diplomacy had set the stage for Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. The current round of Singapore-China disagreements began in 2010, when Singapore’s then foreign minister George Yeo was characterized by Beijing as leading criticism in ASEAN of China’s increasing willingness to assert its claims over disputed South China Sea waters.

The Ottoman Empire opened its first representation to British-ruled Singapore in 1864. Even the first consul general, Ahmet Ataullah Efendi, died in office in 1903 and was interred in Singapore.

Xu Liping, a senior research fellow in international strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Lee’s remarks on Taiwan were “not appropriate”. Turning to the sweeping sanctions imposed on Russia by many countries, Lee said both sides would pay a high price as all nations were economically dependent. The dialogue which is the largest annual gathering of military top brass in Asia is not actually hosted by the Singapore government. Rather, the event is hosted by International Institute for Strategic Studies which is an independent think tank. Wang said China stands ready to maintain high-level exchanges with Singapore, and thanked Singapore’s support for China to join the CPTPP and DEPA, adding that China is willing to maintain communication with all relevant parties on this issue.


Indeed, Singapore is the only Southeast Asian country with an economic partnership agreement with Taiwan. But China could have expressed its displeasure at any time; it need not have waited for the seizure. In any case, China’s reaction to the event was not out of line with how it could have been expected to react had any other Southeast Asian country been involved. While Singaporean leaders might have hoped for some discretion due to their special relationship, they received little. Singapore ended up enduring two months of negotiations before China released its vehicles. The two leaders, who happened to share a common Hakka Chinese heritage, became good friends.

China–Singapore relations

Iswaran, Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations who engaged in a conversation with Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade. They discussed EU-Singapore relations in the context of the wider region and times of global upheaval. The relationship between Washington and Beijing has sunk to such a “very dangerous” level with no sign of tensions easing after the next U.S. presidential election, the prime minister of Singapore said Tuesday. Pluralities in the Asia-Pacific countries surveyed agree that China’s influence is growing. In Australia, Japan and Singapore, about two-thirds or more hold this view, and about half or more in South Korea and Malaysia agree.

Singapore And Malaysia: Are We Really Neutral On China?

In Washington, local lore has long stated that nothing better indicates an issue’s importance than the creation of a new agency for it. Relations say they believe that with the creation of the China House, the Biden administration is taking a stand on the future relationship with China. State Department is creating a new entity known as “China House” to better track what China is doing around the world. One of Singapore’s biggest challenges going forward is a fundamental misunderstanding in Beijing of what it means to be Singaporean. As Chinese power becomes more ascendant in Asia, mainland Chinese would expect Singaporeans—in particular, members of the Chinese Singaporean majority—not only to be drawn to them but also to think like them.

In fact, it was after Singaporean Foreign Minister Rajaratnam met his Chinese counterpart Qiao Guanhua at a dinner in New York that China extended an official invitation to Singapore to visit Beijing. In fact, later on, Rajaratnam would point to Nixon’s visit as setting the precedent for his own. Singapore’s main security threats include transnational terrorism and maritime piracy in the surrounding Malacca Strait. At least three Singaporean citizens have traveled to the Middle East to join the self-proclaimed Islamic State, and the country is wary of foreign fighters returning to commit acts of terrorism in Singapore and spread their ideology throughout Southeast Asia. More recently, Singapore has broadly refrained from commenting on great powers matters.

Harris Rebukes China In Major Speech On Indo

The difference is greatest in Belgium, where 73% of those who say China’s policies on human rights are a very serious problem see China unfavorably and 50% of those who consider Beijing’s human rights policies a less serious problem say the same. Australian views of China turned particularly negative in phone surveys conducted between 2019 and 2020 but have stayed consistently negative since then, with 86% reporting unfavorable views this year. More Australians (83%) describe bilateral relations with China as bad than do the same in any of the other countries surveyed.

  • Australia has complained about China’s trade sanctions against a range of exports including meat, crayfish, timber and coal, and is currently pursuing trade disputes in the World Trade Organization over anti-dumping tariffs on Australian wine and barley.
  • The two have some ongoing disagreements, for example over Singapore’s close ties with Taiwan.
  • Since the Albanese government was elected in May, Australia and China have gradually reopened lines of high-level communication.
  • Lee saw the benefit of working with both sides and avoiding conflict, but he didn’t adequately address the negatives of this approach beyond giving hope that differences could be managed.
  • The new arrivals, many of them fluent Chinese-speakers, seeded a new ecosystem of foreign China-watchers.
  • In Australia, 45% of those who see China favorably place economic relations ahead of human rights in regard to China, compared with just 18% of those who hold unfavorable views of the country.

Please complete this reCAPTCHA to demonstrate that it’s you making the requests and not a robot. In the second part of Goh Chok Tong’s biography, he shares how personal encounters with the likes of Bill Clinton and Jiang Zemin helped to smooth bilateral ties. Lloyd Austin’s trip comes as the Biden administration looks to reinforce Washington’s presence in the region amid a tussle for influence with China. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said both powers have presumed incorrectly they would win in any conflict. Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said the US is engaging more with Southeast Asian countries but they do not want to be forced to take sides. A statement from the foreign ministry in Beijing says Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong expressed support in phone conversation with President Xi Jinping. The two superpowers should lead ‘through power of example rather than example of their power’, Chan Chun Sing says.

Spotlight: Views Of China In Countries Where Bilateral Relations Are Strained

During his two-day trip to Singapore, Kishida also met with Singapore President Halimah Yacob and discussed cooperation in digitalization, restoring cross-border travel, along with efforts to address climate change, according to both governments. At the Shangri-La Dialogue, the region’s major security forum, Kishida said Friday that Japan will be more “proactive” in boosting its engagement and will draw up an action plan for a “free and open” Indo-Pacific by next spring. “The issues are complex and unlikely to be resolved soon but they should continue to be managed peacefully in accordance with international law,” he added. “On the situations in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, Singapore hopes that all parties will exercise restraint and maintain dialogue in order to preserve regional peace and stability,” Lee said. In the joint press briefing, Lee said Singapore is a “staunch supporter” of international law and the U.N. Singapore continues to grapple with a variety of challenges, including the outbreak of a new coronavirus and the effects of climate change. Singapore’s next general election must take place before April 2021, though the date has yet to be announced.

  • Finally, Mr. Sapir asked about how the bilateral conflict between China and the US was understood from Singapore’s vantage point, considering it is one of the few WTO countries to have FTAs with both countries.
  • Harris also met Monday with Singapore President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
  • But for Singapore, there is little doubt that keeping trade briskly flowing through the Malacca Strait and staying near the top of the high-tech manufacturing value chain are vital to its national interests.
  • China’s use of ships and aircraft to challenge Japan, South Korea, and the United States in the region adds to Singapore’s worries, as such actions portend similar moves toward other regional actors.
  • Sun Haiyan, a longtime member of the International Liaison Department, is China’s 12th ambassador to Singapore.
  • These age dynamics are especially pronounced in the U.S., where older people are more likely to call every issue asked about a very serious problem for the U.S.
  • For years there have been mutual direct flights between Istanbul and Singapore by Turkish Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

Meia Nouwens, a Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said Wei’s speech was consistent with Beijing’s official line on Russia-Ukraine issues. Liu Zhen, “Singapore-Taiwan military agreement to stay in place despite pressure from Beijing,” South China Morning Post, October 5, 2017. Neutrality useless without ties with Peking.” The Straits Times, May 10, 1973, NewspaperSG. “新加坡中华总商会工商业考察团离京前往我国南方访问”[“Singaporean Chinese Chamber of Commerce delegation visits the south of China”],人民日报(People’s Daily), October 27, 1971.

Explore More On Singapore

However, the BRI essentially provides a warning message that Singapore should explore a more practical and realistic strategy for not being constrained by China’s geo-economic strategy. Singapore’s picking side and its increasing military budget, China’s assertiveness and the changing Sino-US relations imply the looming fragilities to bilateral relations. Key to the status quo that Singapore wishes to prolong is the United States’ forward military presence in Asia, which supports freedom of navigation and access. Navy has kept sea lanes open, meaning that trading states like Singapore spend less on protecting shipping and maritime access than they otherwise might. Washington’s long-standing policy seems to be to show high degrees of restraint in exercising its ability to veto maritime access for others, including when it comes to surveillance in the U.S. exclusive economic zone.

China–Singapore relations

Morrison was the Turnbull government minister responsible for signing off on the ban of Chinese technology company, Huawei, from Australia’s 5G rollout. Beijing has form in using the arrival of a new government as an opportunity to undertake a face-saving adjustment. Unlike the Morrison government, Wong took time to express her condolences after the China plane crash tragedy. And unlike the Morrison government, Wong took time to express her condolences after the China plane crash tragedy in March. After all, in 2020 it was Beijing’s decision and Beijing’s decision alone to respond to political disagreements by cutting off senior level dialogue and hitting Australia’s exports. An Albanese government in Canberra means an improved trajectory in Australia-China relations is a real possibility.

He signaled that Washington does not seek confrontation with China over Taiwan and does not support Taiwan independence. Austin seemed to suggest that the ball is in China’s court to mellow its pressure on Taiwan if it wishes to lower cross-Strait tensions.

Russell 2000 Futures

The balance of challenges and opportunities presented by China has shifted over time. At the same time, the EU has remained committed to engagement and cooperation given China’s crucial role in addressing global and regional challenges. In that regard, the EU’s current approach towards China set out in the “Strategic Outlook” Joint Communication of 12 March 2019 remains valid. The EU continues to deal with China simultaneously as a partner for cooperation and negotiation, an economic competitor and a systemic rival. Finally, this paper has broader contemporary implications for the study of Singapore’s international affairs. Singapore is unique in that its foreign policy has remained largely consistent over the last several decades, due in part to the fact that Singapore’s security concerns are predicated on innate factors of geography and regional vulnerability.

People’s Daily.新加坡中华总商会工商业考察团离京前往我国南方访问” [“Singaporean Chinese Chamber of Commerce delegation visits the south of China”]. “Singapore-Taiwan military agreement to stay in place despite pressure from Beijing.” South China Morning Post, October 5, 2017. Japan and Singapore are both members of the 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a new initiative led by U.S. Kishida said he expressed “strong opposition” to any attempts to change the status quo by force in the East and South China seas and economic coercion — a phrase apparently aimed at China.

More From Asia

Singapore and Malaysia have signalled their readiness for Asean to elevate its China ties to a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’, which the bloc and Australia agreed to establish on Wednesday. The new scheme, which makes Singapore the third major market with a cross-border trading scheme with mainland stock exchanges, comes as the Lion City and China mark more than three decades of diplomatic ties.

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