China blasts Sin­ga­pore’s mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion with Tai­wan

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A Chi­nese state news­pa­per yes­ter­day crit­i­cized Sin­ga­pore over the South­east Asian citys­tate’s mil­i­tary train­ing with self-gov­ern­ing Tai­wan, fol­low­ing the im­pound­ing of nine Singaporean in­fantry fight­ing ve­hi­cles tran­sit­ing through Hong Kong. The Com­mu­nist Party-run Global Times said in an ed­i­to­rial Tues­day that Sin­ga­pore was re­spon­si­ble for the in­ci­dent, but gave no de­tails about what laws or reg­u­la­tions have been bro­ken by the ship­ping of the ar­mored ve­hi­cles from Tai­wan. The ve­hi­cles were be­ing sent to Sin­ga­pore from Kaoh­si­ung, in south­ern Tai­wan, af­ter a mil­i­tary ex­er­cise there, when they were seized on Wed­nes­day by Hong Kong.

The ed­i­to­rial said China has long op­posed all forms of mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion be­tween other coun­tries and Tai­wan, which Bei­jing claims as a break­away prov­ince to be reunited with by force if nec­es­sary. “China op­poses the out­side world hav­ing any form of mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion or ex­change with Tai­wan,” the pa­per said. “Sin­ga­pore, a state that has diplo­matic re­la­tions with China, should be cau­tious in this re­gard.”

What Sin­ga­pore said

Sin­ga­pore’s de­fense min­is­ter, Ng Eng Hen, said yes­ter­day that the city-state sup­ports the “one-China” prin­ci­ple - Bei­jing’s view that the main­land and Tai­wan are part of a sin­gle Chi­nese na­tion - and that Sin­ga­pore is open about its over­seas train­ing ar­range­ments. “Any train­ing mat­ters be­tween us and other coun­tries are bi­lat­eral, and we should not un­nec­es­sar­ily, un­til the facts come out, muddle the pic­ture and im­pute var­i­ous mo­tives,” he said.

Ng said Sin­ga­pore “plays a pos­i­tive role in cross-strait re­la­tions, and we will con­tinue to do so,” cit­ing as an ex­am­ple the city-state’s host­ing of a his­toric meet­ing last year be­tween Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Tai­wan’s then-pres­i­dent, Ma Ying-jeou.

On Mon­day, a Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokesman said that Bei­jing has lodged a protest with Sin­ga­pore fol­low­ing the seizure of the ve­hi­cles. Geng Shuang re­it­er­ated China’s op­po­si­tion to mil­i­tary and other ex­changes be­tween Tai­wan and the coun­tries China has ties with. “We urge the Singaporean gov­ern­ment to stay com­mit­ted to the one-China prin­ci­ple,” Geng said at a reg­u­lar brief­ing.

Last week, Sin­ga­pore’s de­fense min­istry sent a team to Hong Kong to en­sure the se­cu­rity of the eight-wheeled Sin­ga­pore-made Ter­rex in­fantry car­rier ve­hi­cles that were held by Hong Kong cus­toms on Wed­nes­day. It said the ve­hi­cles were not car­ry­ing am­mu­ni­tion or sen­si­tive equip­ment and that the team would “as­sess the sit­u­a­tion.”

Sin­ga­pore’s army chief, Maj. Gen. Melvyn Ong, said Tues­day that the ve­hi­cles had been shipped com­mer­cially and the mil­i­tary was still at­tempt­ing to as­cer­tain the rea­son for the de­tain­ment. Hong Kong’s South China Morn­ing Post news­pa­per has said Singaporean au­thor­i­ties would need to con­tact China’s for­eign min­istry to get the ve­hi­cles back. The mil­i­taries of Tai­wan and Sin­ga­pore have long trained to­gether, much to the ir­ri­ta­tion of Bei­jing.

The seizure also comes amid Chi­nese dis­plea­sure over Sin­ga­pore’s calls for China to heed in­ter­na­tional rul­ings over ter­ri­to­rial claims in the South China Sea, which Bei­jing says be­longs to it al­most in its en­tirety. China says in­ter­na­tional law has no ju­ris­dic­tion over the mat­ter.

Some ex­perts have spec­u­lated that China would use the seized mil­i­tary ship­ment to pres­sure Sin­ga­pore to adopt a friend­lier stance to­ward China on the dis­pute.—AP

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