S'pore in PRCs Crosshairs over Alleged S China Sea Ruling Endorsement

S'pore in PRCs Crosshairs over Alleged S China Sea Ruling Endorsement
Photo Credit:REUTERS/達志影像

What you need to know

Singapore draws heat from China after allegedly trying to endorse an international ruling on territorial claims in the South China Sea. Singapore denies the claims.

A Chinese professor has accused Singapore of trying to "limit China's interests" in the South China Sea, sparking tensions between the two Asian economic powerhouses.

Singapore should “pay the price” for its actions against China at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit, National Defense University professor Jin Yinan (金一南) said in an interview with China National Radio (CNR).

The NAM is a group of countries not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. The 17th NAM summit was held from Sept. 17-18 on the island of Margarita, Venezuela, with the theme of “Peace, Sovereignty and Solidarity for Development.” China is not a member of the NAM, but holds observer status.

Jin was responding to a Global Times article published on Sept. 21, which cited unnamed sources who claimed Singapore had tried to insert content into a draft of the summit’s Final Declaration endorsing the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s (PCA) ruling in favor of the Philippines over China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

According to the Global Times, a state-run paper in China, Singapore’s representative "insulted" representatives from other countries who opposed the endorsement.

Jin said Singapore was a key member of the movement trying to prevent China’s interests in the South China Sea.

“Singapore is the strategist for the U.S. when it comes to blocking China’s interest in the South China Sea,” he said.

Jin said he believed Singapore was allowing the U.S. to use its military bases in Changi, in eastern Singapore, to control the Malacca and Sunda Straits and in turn limit China’s influence in these areas.

“If Singapore continues to play in favor of the U.S., our [China’s] reaction will not just be limited to one news report, one op-ed, or one open letter. Singapore should pay the price for undermining China’s national interests,” he said.

Singapore’s ambassador to China, Stanley Loh, sent an open letter to the editor-in-chief of the Global Times, calling the paper’s accusations “false and unfounded.”

Loh denied the Global Times' claims, saying the Singaporean delegation did not raise the South China Sea or the tribunal ruling at the summit. He said Singapore “adopted a principled position throughout and intervened to support the common position of ASEAN and defend NAM principles and established practices.”

The summit’s declaration did not include an endorsement of the PCA ruling. It included calls to strengthen international security and reform the United Nations, and it reiterated NAM’s commitment to the protection of human rights.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole