Even as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong makes his first official visit to China in 3 years, Chinese state-linked media has not toned down the rhetoric against the Singapore leader.
In a report by Chinese Communist Party-linked paper, Global Times, PM Lee was declared to be “not as skilled as his father” in balancing ties between China and the United States of America, and also slammed Singaporeans as being overly conscious of their “insecurity”.
The report stated: “Singapore was once called a “little red dot” by former Indonesian president Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie. The term is also adopted by Singaporeans to express their sense of insecurity. It is believed that Singapore has no intention of challenging China and Lee Hsien Loong is just not as skilled as his father in controlling the risks and striking a balance between China and the US.”
Such remarks are common place in the nationalist paper, which has also labelled this recent drought in Singapore-China relations as being the worst since 2016. The paper has previously accused Singapore being pro-US and siding with the US, Tokyo and other South East Asian states against China.
Singapore was the only ASEAN nation to urge all parties to fully respect the tribunal ruling that followed after the Philippines took China to the International Court over its claims over the South China Sea.
Following an incident where Singapore’s armored military vehicles, also known as Terrexes, were seized in Hong Kong while enroute from a training exercise in Taiwan, PM Lee was also denied an invitation to a critical meeting with top Chinese and regional leaders at the recent “One Belt One Road Initiative” summit.
The One Belt One Road initiative is a Chinese plan to direct investment into major infrastructure projects in China and its allies.
Despite the harsh remarks, the Global Times piece welcomed any move by Singapore to move towards China’s ambit and away from the US.
“Rebalancing between Beijing and Washington seems to be a new diplomatic design for Singapore. The country has played a positive role in China’s reform and opening up. Despite all the ups and downs, there is reason to be optimistic about the future Sino-Singaporean relationship.”