Chinese embassy slams US think tank’s report on 'influence operations' by China in Singapore

(PHOTO: 中国驻新加坡大使馆 Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Singapore/Facebook)

SINGAPORE — China’s embassy in Singapore has slammed a recent report published by a United States think tank that highlights China’s “influence operations” in Singapore, calling it “lies” and groundless allegations “distorted from truth”.

In a Friday (19 July) statement posted on Facebook in both English and Mandarin, an embassy spokesperson decried the report as being absurd but with a “clear” purpose.

“That is to alienate the friendship of our two peoples and hinder normal exchanges between the two countries,” said the spokesperson.

The exchanges and cooperation between both countries “reflect the amicable relations” they share and are attributed to the “joint efforts by the two governments and all sectors of societies”, added the spokesperson.

The “unique connections in history and culture between both countries”, described by the spokesperson as a natural advantage in promoting bilateral cooperation, have been “unfortunately taken by someone as an excuse for attack, thus hurting not only China but also Singapore”.

The statement comes days after a 16 July report stating that the Asian giant is using multiple channels, such as cultural organisations, clan associations, business associations and youth programmes, to engage in “influence operations” in Singapore.

The report, authored by executive director of the Global Taiwan Institute Russell Hsiao, was published by US research institute The Jamestown Foundation.

In it, Hsiao wrote that the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) propaganda efforts in Singapore - where 76.2 per cent of the population are Chinese, he noted - aim to promote the narrative of a "greater China", one that includes all people of Chinese descent, irrespective of nationality.

He added that the party’s “fundamental purpose” is to impose a Chinese identity on Singapore so that “it will align more closely with the PRC’s expanding interests”.

The embassy spokesperson called these allegations “lies” that “the more they are repeated, the more nonsense they are”.

“In terms of the development of China-Singapore relations, a healthy social and public opinion environment is essential. It is our common aspiration and shared responsibility of all, including the media,” said the spokesperson.

Describing Singapore as a “friendly neighbour” of China, the spokesperson added, “We respect Singapore as a multi-cultural and multi-religious state and will remain committed to developing friendly relations with Singapore on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.

This serves the fundamental and long-term interests of the two countries and their peoples.”

Retired top Singapore diplomat Bilahari Kausikan had last year pointed out at a forum on ethnic identity and culture that the assertion of a Chinese identity - due to the rise of China - is a persistent threat that has to be managed carefully by Singapore.

Given Singapore’s young age and multi-racial composition, the Singaporean identity is “particularly malleable” as it comes under pressure from external forces, he added.

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