Calls For China To Release Singapore Military Equipment in Hong Kong — China adopts an increasingly hostile attitude towards Singapore


IS CHINA flexing its muscles or what? That’s the niggling question behind the seizure of nine Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles by Hong Kong customs authorities. Is this in retaliation for Singapore’s position on the claims over the South China Sea? We know that Beijing is pretty sore that the little red dot is standing by international rules, rather than waving its flag behind China.

Some experts think so, especially in light of what a Chinese spokesman said about the seizure: “All ships that enter Hong Kong should follow the laws of the Special Administrative Region. We oppose countries that have diplomatic relations with us to have any form of official exchanges with Taiwan, including defence cooperation.”

As though China had no clue that the Singapore Armed Forces conducts training exercises in Taiwan. Hey, we just don’t have the space here, okay? It’s not intended to be provocative!

Still it’s a mystery. What’s not answered is why the cargo ships run by APL had to stop by Hong Kong on its way from Taiwan to Singapore. Is that usual?

The South China Morning post quoted Mr Lee Chih-hong, a research fellow at the Longus Institute for Development and Strategy in Singapore, as saying it was “standard practice for many years for Singapore to ship military vehicles, without ammunition, back to Singapore via Hong Kong after military exercises in Taiwan.”

“In the past, such things never got reported, but it’s reported this time – it’s really puzzling.”

SAF has sent over a team to assure “the security” of its assets. You can look at this in many ways: it wants to ensure that no one damages the made-in-Singapore vehicles – or takes it apart to look at its insides. The nine vehicles have been moved to a cargo examination compound. There’s no ammunition on board, the SAF has maintained, unlike what initial media reports had claimed.

Hong Kong container ship terminal. Photograph by Lam Yik Fei for Bloomberg

So why were they seized? The SAF seems to be moving the responsibility to APL, which is supposed to have all the necessary permits for its cargo.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong media is having a field day speculating on the motives for the seizure. Said the South China Morning Post: “The interception of nine advanced combat vehicles at the Kwai Chung container terminal on Wednesday places fresh scrutiny on four decades of military co-operation between Taiwan and the city state which an extremely unhappy Beijing has tolerated.

The stand-off – in which Hong Kong is playing man in the middle – comes as China adopts an increasingly hostile attitude towards Singapore which has recently had strategic geo-political disagreements with Beijing.”

Some experts, especially those based in Singapore, took a more muted view. TODAY reported Associate Professor Li Mingjiang, from the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, as saying that Beijing did not need to use the incident to pressure Singapore, when other channels, both formal and informal, are available.

He added: “We’ve not seen really seen any notable signs … that Beijing is very upset about Singapore’s military training activities in Taiwan. I’ve not heard such complaints from Chinese officials or policy elites.”

It looks like the little red dot is being pressured on all sides for different reasons. There’s Malaysia imposing a vehicle entry permit for cars from Singapore, Indonesia pleading runway maintenance to get Singapore Airlines to cut down flights and even a little diplomatic flutter with China’s Global Times over what a Singapore diplomat said or did not say at an international meeting about Asean’s position in the South China Sea.




Diplomats who have discussed the sea disputes with Peace and Freedom say that China’s strategy is to prevent any alliance of neighbors to interfere with China’s sea expansion….


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One Response to “Calls For China To Release Singapore Military Equipment in Hong Kong — China adopts an increasingly hostile attitude towards Singapore”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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