Despite a 7-hour long meeting between the Singapore diplomats and Hong Kong authorities on Nov 29, China is not acceding to Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen’s demand for “clear and legal” reasons over the detention of 9 armoured vehicles. In an update by the Ministry of Defence (MinDef), the Singapore government is arranging another meeting today (Dec 1) to demand the “formal reason” for the detention.
Earlier on Tuesday (Nov 29), Singapore Minister Ng Eng Hen provoked China further by claiming that he won’t get back the confiscated military assault vehicles if he is not given “clear and legal” reasons for the detention.
However it seems that China is not bothering itself with Singapore’s rhetoric and theatrical display because it is public knowledge that China detained the vehicles as a formal warning to Singapore for it’s anti-China moves recently. China Foreign Minister explicitly stated that it will not allow Singapore, a country it has diplomatic ties with, to conduct official ties like joint military training with Taiwan.
In August, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong offended China by telling it to respect “the rule of law” and give up its claims on the South China Sea. China instead responded that Singapore should mind its own business since it is not a claimant country. To add on to Lee Hsien Loong’s frustration, the ASEAN countries involved sided with China and agreed to settle the issue bilaterally. PM Lee Hsien Loong further aggravate the worsening relationship in November at the APEC meeting by claiming China is no longer the “middle kingdom” and should not act like so.