The always provocative Global Times, has weighed in yet again on the current controversy surrounding the nine state-of-the-art Singaporean armored vehicles that were seized in Hong Kong last week while returning from military drills in Taiwan. The nationalistic party tabloid says that for all the Chinese people care, these vehicles can be “melted down.”
“Singapore’s image in China is now so rotten that ordinary Chinese people think the best thing to do with the ‘confiscated’ armored vehicles that ‘walked right into our trap’ is to send them to the steel mills to be melted down,” read an editorial published today in the Chinese-language edition of the Global Times, according to Reuters.
These harsh words follow a Global Times editorial published in its English edition on Sunday warning Singapore that its “hypocrisy” in “working against the One-China principle'” could result in a “possible adjustment of Beijing’s foreign policies and profoundly impact Singapore’s economy.”
Yesterday, China issued its own formal condemnation, lodging a protest against Singapore for its disregard of the One-China principle — an agreement of sorts that allows both sides of the strait to claim that there is only “one China,” while maintaining vastly different views on who should govern it.
Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said earlier today that Singapore “will not deviate” from the One-China principle and values its “long-standing” and “mutually beneficial” relationship with China:
One thing in Chinese culture is you never forget your old friends, people who were there with you in the beginning, people who were there with you through thick and thin, and surely in Chinese culture you appreciate this concept of loyalty to old friends
At the same time, you know full well where I stand, and I believe in One China and we will not deviate from that, we have not changed.
At the same time, Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen has made it clear that Singapore wants “full rights of recovery” for its seized military vehicles, and plans to recover the vehicles just as soon as the Defense Ministry learns why they were seized in the first place.
“I think speculations are on why they were, until the facts are established, and we should all wait for the facts. Until that is established, it is speculation unwarranted and unfair on all parties involved,” Ng said.
The nine Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles (ICV) and equipment were seized by Hong Kong customs off a cargo ship last Wednesday that was sailing from Taiwan to Singapore following military drills on the island. FactWire reported that Hong Kong customs officials were tipped off about the shipment by their mainland counterparts, while Hong Kong customs has maintained they were just carrying out an ordinary inspection. A Singaporean delegation arrived in Hong Kong last Friday, and since then the vehicles have been moved to a secure facility.
For decades, Singapore has carried out annual military training exercises in Taiwan, but now Beijing appears intent on severing those ties at a turbulent and possibly transformative time in the South China Sea region.
Traditionally, Singapore has served as a kind of a bridge between Beijing and Taipei. It was in Singapore that last year’s historic meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou took place. But recently, relations between Singapore and the mainland have been worsening thanks to South China Sea tensions and Singapore turning increasingly to the United States for security aid.
At the same time, the incident also occurs after the election of Donald Trump in the US. While no one can really say what a Trump presidency will look like, many experts believe that his isolationist policies will encourage China to expand its power in the region. Severing a military alliance that it dislikes via the Hong Kong customs office could be an experimental first step into an even more forceful attitude going forward.
[Images via Apple Daily]
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