Chinese reports that Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, allegedly made remarks opposing Taiwan’s independence and is considering dropping defence exercises appear to be wishful thinking on the part of the Chinese government.
In a report on 20 September, Chinese Communist Party-linked paper, People’s Daily, allegedly attributed remarks to Prime Minister Lee made during a meeting with Xi Jinping that Singapore would follow the “One-China Principle” and oppose Taiwan’s independence. However, these remarks appear to be misunderstood.
Taiwan Central News Agency later reported receiving the full remarks from Singaporean authorities, who reported that Lee had said during the meeting that Singapore would follow the One-China Principle based on its own understanding and interests. Lee did not claim to oppose Taiwanese independence as Chinese papers reported.
This comes amid a period of testy relations between Singapore and China, with one of the disputed issues being over the issue of Taiwan’s de-facto autonomy. Chinese port authorities at Hong Kong had previously detained Singaporean armoured vehicles travelling from an exercise in Taiwan last year.
Following his meeting with Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Lee made these remarks to the Singapore media reaffirming its independent foreign policy while acknowledging both countries’ efforts to warm ties. “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.”