This post is part of the series SAF Vehicle Seize
Other posts in this series:
- What’s the deal with China holding our military vehicles? Bilahari Kausikan explains
- How should we react to China holding our armoured vehicles?
- Netizens: China’s a big but petty nation with double standards (Current)
TL:DR – we need to be united so that we can’t be bullied!
Nine of our amoured personnel carriers (APCs) were impounded by Hong Kong. That sparked a whole lot of discussions online. Many people (including us and ambassador-at-large, Mr Bilahari Kausikan) have said a lot about this incident online.
Someone has collated some comments made in Chinese into a (fairly) coherent article. We think the article provides an interesting perspective on this issue. That’s why we have decided to translate these online comments into English for more people to read it:
Singapore knows that we are a small country. We understand our own strengths and weaknesses. We are well aware of our own position in the world. We don’t overreach. Nor are we insecure that we are a small country. Singapore and the big powers (e.g. USA and China) depend on one another, but Singapore isn’t reliant on them. We are pragmatic and not pretentious. We are willing to negotiate with other countries to collectively advance our interests. But we are always principled.
That’s how we have not only survived but thrived. And it’s definitely no mean feat. We have to carefully negotiate amongst the big powers. We are surrounded by Islamic countries. We are a tiny country at a key strategic location.
That’s why we need to have strategic alliances in order to survive. We do have military ties with USA, but we definitely not a mouthpiece of USA. Our position has always been that we won’t choose sides between China and USA. Because we know that choosing sides aren’t beneficial to us. Rather, the best position is to be friends with both superpowers.
That’s why we try to be useful to both USA and China. Yet, we do not completely side with either side. Yes, at this point, it does sound like Singapore is like a lady two-timing two eligible bachelors. In some ways, that’s the correct way of understanding Singapore’s position.
Nevertheless, from China’s perspective, Singapore is actually quite a good, albeit small, friend. Our first prime minister, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and China’s Deng Xiao Ping are good personal friends. Both are great, farsighted political leaders.
China has regularly claimed that USA’s neo-imperialism is like a “paper tiger”. If that’s the case, why doesn’t China directly fight against USA rather than bullying a small country like Singapore? Has China forgotten that Singapore has helped China open up and gain access to the global marketplace? China’s current actions make it seem ungrateful and petty!
In reality, China doesn’t have a strategy to really fight against USA. What can they do? Fight economically? Shut down their economy? Let’s see if they can even handle Trump. And would China dare to go against USA militarily? Not likely. Is that why China chose to bully Singapore? Because Singapore’s a much easier target? Is that why China is planning so many projects (e.g. Kra canal, China-Pakistan rail link, and port in Malacca) to undercut Singapore’s interests?
That said, the China-Pakistan rail link will only affect China and Pakistan. Japan and Korea won’t have to use that, even if shipments are going to Russia. As for the Kra Canal, there are still many unknowns, not least the political situation in Thailand. But even if the Kra Canal is completed and shorten some navigation routes, many of the shipments from countries in the southern hemisphere (e.g. Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand) will still have to pass through Singapore before they reach the Kra Canal.
Also, is it possible for China to carry out all these mega-projects all at once? If China constructs the Kra Canal, wouldn’t that make the port in Malacca is a white elephant? Isn’t that shooting themselves in the foot? Can you see the problem here? Have they thought about this? Even if China drops the idea of the Kra Canal and just builds the port in Malacca, many of the shipments from countries in the southern hemisphere will still have to pass through Singapore.
As for Malaysia’s East Coast Rail Line project that China is financing and building, who will finance the maintenance? After it is built, it will be costly to manage and maintain. The monsoon rains will increase the costs of repairs and maintenance. Taken together, will it still be economically viable?
That said, all countries need to learn how to maintain cordial relationships with a rising China. That’s why we should support Singapore’s efforts to continue being friendly to China and other countries while advancing our national interests.
新加坡对中国的友好已经是比大部分国家好多。但是如果对方无礼无法的攻击, 那是无法必免的。在这要新加坡学习的, 团结才是必免被急压和欺负的下长。
In reality, Singapore is already friendly to China compared to most other countries. But it is still unavoidable that, from time to time, China would unreasonably and lawlessly pick on Singapore. What we can do is learn and be untied so that we can avoid being bullied.
There, this issue is buzzing online amongst the Chinese communities in Singapore, and in case you don’t read Chinese, we hope this gives you a feel of what some of the netizens are feeling. Guess the concern over the matter is real, and the desire to come together and rally behind our own little red dot is also real.
We’ll leave you with this graphic that has been making its rounds these couple of days,
Continue reading this series:
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