As Singapore refuse to comply with the One-China policy, Hong Kong Customs have moved the 9 Singapore armoured vehicles indoor in a warehouse. Responding to media reports that the vehicles have “disappeared”, the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department said:
“As the case is still under investigation, no further information is available. The suspected controlled items are still kept at a customs storage place in Tuen Mun. They have been stored indoors since December 6.”
On 28 Nov 2016, China sent representatives to Singapore telling the US ally to comply with One-China policy and that it will not allow any country it has diplomatic links with to conduct military training with Taiwan. However, Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen remained defiant and even referred Taiwan as a country in his response.
The 9 made-in-US Terrex vehicles, worth over S$119 million, are the latest models Singapore purchased and it is understood that China detained the vehicles due to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s intervention in the South China Sea. In August 2016, Lee Hsien Loong told China to “respect the rule of law” but China told Singapore, a non-claimant country, to mind its own business. Claimant countries like Malaysia and Philippines have agreed to settle the territorial claims bilaterally with China, ignoring Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Following China’s detention of the vehicles, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong turned silent and no longer pursue his “rule of law” stance. The country’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan appears helpless and resigned to the situation. The Singapore Defence Minister, Ng Eng Hen, however is adamant on provoking China, saying that the vehicle detention is not a threat.