In a media response over China’s warning over Singapore’s military ties with Taiwan and it’s stance over the South China Sea, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan refused to comply with China’s request citing it to be a “just a difference” and attempted to butter up China saying “we are such close friends”.
“There would be differences in view with Beijing from time to time, because we are such close and long term friends. “We are very consistent, we are very transparent, and we call a spade a spade. From time to time, a different perspective will emerge over specific issues. When that happens, our belief is that it’s better to be upfront, and be honest about it and do it in a non-provocative way. And honestly, at the most senior levels and at the leadership levels, there’s a deep appreciation that this is a long and wide ranging relationship, and we will not allow any single issue to hijack it.”
Minister Vivian Balarishnan blame the commercial shipper, APL, for the diplomatic fiasco and averted taking responsibility for Singapore’s offensive stances against China. The Minister also refused to address China Foreign Minister’s comment warning Singapore of the “One-China” policy:
“I wouldn’t over react to that. All I would say is we expect commercial providers to strictly comply with the law. We expect the law to take its course.”
China has repeatedly told Singapore to stay out of the South China Sea issue because the latter is not a claimant country. ASEAN countries with claims in the sea like Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam has each instead settled the issue with China bilaterally, leaving Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong red-faced. In the South China Sea meeting hosted by ASEAN and China, Minister Vivian Balakrishnan walked out of the conference because the ASEAN countries refuse to offend China like Singapore did.