Singapore has not raised the issue of its confiscated armoured vehicles with China, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.
“It is best that this matter be handled through the proper legal process, and there is no need to politicise it. There is no need to engage in megaphone diplomacy,” said Balakrishnan.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday (9 January), the minister was responding to Choa Chu Kang MP Zaqy Mohamad’s question on whether Singapore had opened a dialogue with Beijing on the issue.
Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China that enjoys autonomy over many aspects of its governance, save in key areas such as foreign affairs and defence.
Earlier, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told the House that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has written to Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on the issue.
Leung responded by saying that the matter is under investigation and would be handled in accordance with Hong Kong law. Balakrishnan welcomed this “important point”, and added that he expected the law to take its course.
Relations with China
Balakrishnan also responded to Aljunied GRC MP Low Thia Khiang’s query on whether China’s rising stature as a superpower had made it “arrogant and aggressive and a big bully”.
“Singapore has been a long-term, reliable and consistent friend of China,” said Balakrishnan, noting that since 2013, Singapore has been China’s largest foreign investor, and China has been the Republic’s largest trading partner.
The two countries have cooperated in many areas of mutual interest – in 2016 alone, Balakrishnan made four working trips to China.
Despite the close relationship, there will be differences of opinion from time to time, and Singapore must learn to “take things in our stride” and remain calm, said the minister.
And while different countries will place pressure on Singapore to completely align itself with their interests, the country cannot be at the beck and call of any single superpower.
“Do not force us to make invidious choices,” said Balakrishnan.