Photo of Lee Hsien Loong and Xi Jin Ping from SPH

Despite having Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong making a personal visit to China, China leaders are reluctant to let Singapore join in the membership of the multi-trillion One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. At the 3-day visit, China entertained Lee Hsien Loong with lips service claiming that the two countries have “many opportunities” to work with. However there is no mention of any specific project being initiated.

PM Lee Hsien Loong wrapped up his China visit with more lips service, but he was visibly upset with the lack of development in the OBOR project:

“I think bilateral relations are stable, more than stable. They are in a good stead. We had some issues to deal with last year. But this year, there have been many exchanges. That there will be issues from time to time is to be expected. Partly, it’s because we are two different countries, and never will you see interests perfectly aligned.”

The Singapore PM also said that he deliberately brought two non-Chinese appointment holders – Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Parliament Secretary Amrin Amin – to protest against China:

“So for us to take advantage of that cultural affinity, and at the same time to be able to maintain the distinct identity and be quite clear that we are multi-racial and that we are not a Chinese society, I think that is something which we will have to continue to manage, and continue to have to try to maintain in China. To that end, I have always tried to include non-Chinese ministers or appointment holders when he visits China to visibly show that we are different but friendly.”

Lee Hsien Loong will be flying to US to meet President Donald Trump next month.