08 Jun 2016
Singapore is Part of Common Circle of Friendship of US and China
1. I refer to the commentary by Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Researcher Mr Cheng Bifan, entitled “Singapore has picked the wrong target in its balance of powers strategy”, published in Global Times on 1 June 2016. The commentary suggests that Singapore has taken sides against China. This view is completely wrong.
2. Singapore is a good friend of both the US and China. We do support the US engagement in the region. The US has been a benign force that has undergirded stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacific since the end of World War Two. China too has benefitted from this regional stability and prosperity, which has provided the conditions for China’s rapid growth since its opening up in 1978.
3. We are also supportive of China’s peaceful development. We welcome China’s active participation in a rules-based international order and look forward to it playing a growing and constructive role in regional prosperity and peace.
4. Hence, Singapore has supported China’s development, even through the difficult post-1989 period. We began discussions with China on the first Government-to-Government cooperation project, in Suzhou, in 1992. Singapore was one of the first ASEAN countries to participate in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. We also look forward to cooperating with China and other stakeholders on the “One Belt, One Road” initiative.
5. In cross-strait relations, Singapore has played a facilitative role. We hosted the Wang-Koo talks in 1993 and the first ever meeting between the top leaders from both sides last year. This was possible only because Singapore has maintained a principled and consistent stand on this issue.
6. China-Singapore ties have broadened and deepened over the decades. We have supported China’s development as China’s needs and priorities evolved. Following the Suzhou project, both sides launched flagship Government-to-Government projects in Tianjin and Chongqing.
7. We should avoid getting caught in a zero-sum mentality. Singapore fully agrees with what the leaders of both the US and China have said – that the Asia Pacific is big enough to accommodate both powers. We do not see a growing Chinese role in the region as being at the expense of US contributions to regional stability, security, and prosperity. As recently articulated by President Xi Jinping, the US and China should “cultivate common circles of friends” and Singapore is part of this common circle of friendship.
8. China’s rise will cause a major shift in the strategic environment, especially for small countries like Singapore. We hope that possible friction points, such as the South China Sea, will not derail the overall positive trajectory. Singapore has taken a principled stand on the South China Sea, emphasising the right to freedom of navigation and overflight, which are vital national interests. We are not a claimant state and do not take sides on competing territorial claims. We support the peaceful resolution of disputes, in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS.
9. Finally, I note that Mr Cheng cited comments by various Singapore leaders. These comments were taken out of context and are a gross distortion of what was actually said.
STANLEY LOH (罗家良)
to the People’s Republic of China
我们应该避免陷入零和博弈的思维。中美两国领导人曾说亚太地区之大足够同时容得下美国和中国两个大国， 这一点新加坡完全赞同。 我们认为，中国在地区事务中发挥越来越重要的作用的同时，并不会必然地消减美国为地区稳定和安全有做的贡献。正如中国国家主席习近平近日所说，中美应该“努力培育两国共同而非排他的'朋友圈'”，新加坡就是这朋友圈的成员之一。
中国的崛起意味着战略环境的重大变化，尤其对于如新加坡这样的小国家。我们希望如南海问题的潜在摩擦点不会使整体向好的趋势脱轨。在南海问题上，新加坡秉持了一个原则性的立场， 强调航行和飞越自由权， 这两点是至关重要的国家利益。我们不是声索国， 对于各方的主权声索不选边站队。我们支持在按照国际法包括联合国海洋法公约的国际法架构平解决争议。