In the just concluded Belt and Road Forum, China has chosen to invite the Heads of Government for some countries, and only a ministerial representative from others.
How did China choose? One can only guess from the list that China has separated her close friends and allies, from the rest.
Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia and The Philippines all sent their Heads of Government. Our delegation was headed by Min Lawrence Wong.
As a result, Singapore was not at the main table around President Xi in the many of the main discussions.
Are we not a special friend? Is China still angry with Singapore? They will never say, nor have they explained how they chose which Heads of Government to invite.
Suffice to say China is behaving more and more like the imperial power of old. Allowing countries they are happy with to be close to them and trade, and keeping others further away – with China at the centre.
Singapore will have a tough time navigating these new circumstances. However, our sovereignty must always come first. And in order to remain sovereign, and to resist pressure from the rising power, we need to be united and strong. It is a choice a new generation of Singaporeans must make – that of fighting for and preserving our independence.