Photo of Lee Hsien Loong from CNA

According to a military expert based in Macau, Singapore ruling party PAP government has itself to blame by refusing to China’s 2012 offer to accept Hainan island for military exercise, Starlight Project, instead of Taiwan. Then in 2012, Singapore was apparently pressured by the United States not to accept China’s offer.

“The mainland side promised to provide the Singaporean military with a closer and larger place in Hainan (than that used in Taiwan) for military exercises, but Singapore rejected the offer. Singapore rejected the offer because of strong opposition from the Pentagon, which was concerned that Washington’s military secrets could be leaked as Singapore uses American weapon systems.”

China first made the offer in 2007, when the Starlight Project came to public eye after a fighter jet accident killed 2 Singaporeans and injured 9 others in Taiwan. Five years later in 2012, China made the same offer again after Singapore was exposed to have met Taiwan’s Defence Minister in secret. As such, Singapore’s long-exhausted excuse of lack of training grounds became unacceptable to China.

The two decisions by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong then means that Singapore is deliberately breaching the “One-China” policy by continuing official military training with Taiwan – an indirect preparation aiding Taiwan in the invasion of China in the name of “training”. China has apparently offered a lifeline, henceforth Singapore today can resolve the current deadlock by requesting to train in Hainan and cutting all military ties with Taiwan.

As China have an extent of respect for former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the mainland did not pursue further even though they were clearly irritated. However, with the death of Lee Kuan Yew in March 2015, the China administration sees no need to allow further concessions to Singapore because his son Lee Hsien Loong has only been riding on the coat tail of his father since he took office in 2004.

For the detained cargo of SAF vehicles, the Macau-based military expert, Antony Wang Dong, said that China has already obtained all confidential military secrets they could extract:

“I’m pretty sure experts with the People’s Liberation Army’s 617 Factory in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, and the China North Vehicle Research Institute based in Beijing have already examined the nine armoured vehicles stuck in Hong Kong. Military experts may have access to both the software and hardware of the military communications system, which is considered top secret. As a result, the Singaporean military may have to change the entire communications system in the worst case scenario.”