Beijing — While Taiwan faces regional pressure to adhere to the one-China policy — due, in large part, to its budding friendship with the United States — the city-state of Singapore has found itself in a similar position as China continues to invoke sovereignty on an issue of seized military hardware.
From a report by the International Business Times on Monday:
“China has warned Singapore to be ‘cautious with their words and actions’ and reminded the city state to respect its one-China policy after it demanded the return of its military vehicles that have been detained at a Hong Kong port since November 2016.
“The nine Singapore Armed Forces Terrex Infantry carriers were impounded by Hong Kong customs on 23 November 2016 when they were being returned to Singapore after a military exercise in Taiwan.”
Hong Kong authorities have continuously stated certain proof must be provided before the equipment will be returned, an action Singapore says has no basis in international law. This back and forth prompted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang to issue a warning at a press briefing on Monday.
“I hope the relevant parties can be cautious in their remarks and actions,” the Foreign Minister said. “It is hoped that all relevant parties, including Singapore, can earnestly respect the one-China policy, which is the fundamental prerequisite for China to develop ties with other countries.”
And it’s the “ties with other countries” part that has China on edge.
As Anti-Media highlighted on Monday, Taiwan has fallen under increased pressure from China to cease its burgeoning relationship with the United States. Protocol established by the one-China policy says foreign leaders must go through China if they wish to collaborate with Taiwan.
This is because China views Taiwan as a province, not a sovereign nation. As such, tensions in the region have steadily increased since the Taiwanese people elected a pro-independence president, Tsai-Ing wen, and that president began opening up dialogue with the United States.
The seizure of Singapore’s military hardware by Hong Kong authorities in November amounts, for many analysts, to a warning from the Chinese mainland. Singapore, which has already shown support for the U.S. directly by backing its stance on the overarching South China Sea dispute, should remember its place and adhere fully to the one-China policy.
As reported by the South China Morning Post:
“Diplomatic observers said the tough response from Beijing was a warning to Singapore not to meddle in the maritime dispute and to cut off military ties with Taiwan.”
Such “tough responses” are likely to continue as China, seeking to solidify its regional dominance, refuses to back away from its one-China policy.