According to China state media South China Morning Post (SCMP), the China central government has confirmed that Lee Hsien Loong was deliberately left out of the invitation at the Belt and Road forum. Of the 10 ASEAN countries, the world’s most expensive Prime Minister’s absence is painfully conspicuous because Singapore is supposed to take over the ASEAN Chairmanship next year (2018).
When interviewed by a foreign media why he was not invited to the China meeting, Lee Hsien Loong gave an awkward silence.
SCMP quoted a senior researcher from the Chinese Academy of Social Science giving a blunt assessment:
“China’s decision not to invite the Singaporean leader reflected a growing belief in Beijing that the Lion City sought only economic benefits from China, while relying on the US for security. China is gradually recognising this and therefore doesn’t really care if the Singapore PM attended or not.”
The Chinese researcher also stated that Lee Hsien Loong’s PAP government is completely different from his father’s:
“The current administration in Singapore is different from the generation of Lee Kuan Yew. They are used to dealing with China from their Western perspective that is being a teacher of China, rather than a follower of China.”
The China state media also highlighted a diplomatic disaster caused by Lee Hsien Loong in 2003, before he became Prime Minister of Singapore. Lee Hsien Loong went to Taiwan on a private visit and offered himself to mediate between China and Taiwan. China in 2003 slammed Lee Hsien Loong for poking his nose into China’s domestic affairs.
Following the snub at the Belt and Road forum in Beijing, Lee Hsien Loong was paid a visit by a Chinese Communist Party member who do not hold any government portfolio.