Singapore’s relations with China not affected after ‘solemn demarches’ over

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s “strong and deep” relations with China have not been affected, said Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Monday (Feb 5), after China made “solemn demarches” to Singapore over its congratulations to Taiwan’s William Lai Ching-te.

In a written answer to a parliamentary question by MP Dennis Tan (WP-Hougang) about the relationship between the two countries, Dr Balakrishnan said: “Singapore was approached by the Chinese, and we reiterated our longstanding approach and ‘One China’ policy.

“Our strong and deep relations with China have not been affected, and our engagements with China have proceeded apace.”

On Jan 14, Singapore congratulated Dr Lai after he secured the presidency for the Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan’s elections.

Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said then that Singapore shares a “close and longstanding friendship with Taiwan and the Taiwanese people, and will continue to grow this relationship based on our ‘One China’ policy”.

The MFA spokesperson said Singapore consistently supported the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.

Dr Lai, the former mayor of Tainan, is a noted proponent of Taiwan’s independence. His rivals and critics have said his election would endanger Taiwan and threaten peace with China. 

Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement that the vote “will not impede the inevitable trend of China’s reunification“, according to Xinhua news agency.

China rebuked countries that congratulated Dr Lai on his victory, including Singapore, the United States, Japan and several European nations. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a press conference that China has “immediately made solemn demarches to Singapore”.

“Singaporean leaders stated on multiple occasions that the Taiwan question is ‘a deep red line’ for China,” she added.

“China values this statement and hopes that Singapore will strictly abide by the One-China principle and uphold the overall friendly relations between China and Singapore with concrete actions.”

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