Global Times, the unofficial spokeman of China, has published articles that criticized Singapore’s cosying up with the Americans and the lavish dinner that Obama hosted for Hsien Loong as a statement of Singapore’s support for the Americans particularly over the South China dispute. Singapore’s overt support of the American position is never in doubt by the numerous articles published in the local media and with comments from Singapore officials that irked China. And Hsien Loong’s comments at the White House dinner put squarely where Singapore stood in the dispute between China and the US.
The Global Times did acknowledge the difficult position of Singapore in a
region that is not too friendly and could turn hostile to Singapore and
Singapore’s interests and the need to play the American card. The
military might of the Americans is sorely needed should the neighbours
attempt to squeeze Singapore to put Singapore in its rightful place.
China appreciates that but when Singapore leaned too close to the
Americans and even overtly took positions that are explicitly anti
China, it forces China’s hand.
The Global Times reminded Singapore that it could play a balancing role
like in the past by being as neutral as possible. When Singapore started
to take sides against China, Singapore would lose this value and
strategic role as a balancer between the two superpowers. LKY was able
to do what he did because of his ability to respect the interests of the
two superpowers without being hostile to anyone. China opened its doors
to LKY, giving him special access to China’s top leaders. LKY could
share his understanding of Chinese leader’s thinking with the Americans
and could advise the Americans because of this special privilege built
over years of trust and confidence building.
When this trust is lost, when China perceived that Singapore is no
longer trustworthy, but in the American camp, the door will be closed.
Hsien Loong or other Singapore leaders will find themselves waiting
outside the corridors of Chinese leaders taking cue numbers and waiting
to be invited for an audience that would not come. When that day comes,
Singapore would lose its usefulness to China and also to the Americans
other than being a close military ally like the South Koreans, Japanese,
the Philippines and the Vietnamese. The consequences of being relegated
to a staunch American ally in the American pivot to Asia would not be
in the long term interest of Singapore. Many doors would be closed and
many economic deals would be left hanging in the air. The Chinese market
would no longer be there, to be easily accessible.
This seems to be the warning coming out from the Global Times. Respect
China’s interests and continue to play a strategic balancing role
between the two super powers or be sidelined.
The warning to Singapore has been sounded. Whither Sino Singapore
relations going forward are now in the hands of Singapore leaders. Would
Singapore's media and officials continue to call China's friends as
Trojan Horses in public forum to show where Singapore stood in the US