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Terrex issue shouldn’t be politicised, says Vivian

SINGAPORE — The issue of Singapore’s Terrex vehicles being seized by Hong Kong authorities should not be politicised, stressed Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament on Monday (Jan 9), as he assured that so far there have not been any restrictions on market access for Singapore businesses in China.

In Parliament on Jan 9, 2017, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan urged patience and unity on the issue of the seized Terrex vehicles. TODAY file photo

In Parliament on Jan 9, 2017, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan urged patience and unity on the issue of the seized Terrex vehicles. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — The issue of Singapore’s Terrex vehicles being seized by Hong Kong authorities should not be politicised, stressed Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament on Monday (Jan 9), as he assured that so far there have not been any restrictions on market access for Singapore businesses in China.

He also said Singapore has not opened up any dialogue with Chinese authorities, and reiterated that relations with China, Taiwan and Hong Kong are based strictly on the One-China policy.

Dr Balakrishnan was responding to a supplementary question by Member of Parliament Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC), who asked if Singapore has opened up dialogue with the Chinese government to mediate at the state level. 

Mr Mohamad also related feedback from clan associations, which have said that market access for Singapore companies in China appeared to have been restricted of late.

Responding, Dr Balakrishnan said that the Government expects the law to take its course. “We’ve been assured by Hong Kong that investigations are ongoing, they need more time. But this important point — that it will be handled in accordance with the law — is a very important assurance and one that we welcome.”

He added: “It is best that this matter be handled through the proper legal process, and there is no need to politicise it, there is no need to engage in megaphone diplomacy.”

He also noted Singapore’s longstanding, multi-faceted, mutually beneficial relationship with China, adding that there are many areas of cooperation, and both countries remain committed to the three government-to-government projects — Suzhou Industrial Park, Tianjin Eco-City and Chongqing Connectivity Initiative.
 
“Our relations with China and our interactions with Hong Kong and Taiwan are based strictly on our one-China policy. We have consistently abided by this policy and understandings reached when we established diplomatic relations with China in 1990, and we will continue to do so,” he added. 

He also stressed that it was important for Singapore to not be seen as acting at the behest of any other country. “This is essential for our international credibility, our standing, our relevance and usefulness to our partners and friends,” he said.

He added: “We must also maintain our emphasis on upholding international law, and scrupulously respecting agreements which have been entered into with other countries. This attitude to international law and scrupulously respecting agreements is basic to the rules-based international order that benefits all countries, and is especially crucial to our long-term survival and independence as a small state.”

Mr Low Thia Khiang (Aljunied GRC) also posed a supplementary question, pointing out that if matters had been handled with the spirit of respecting the law in the first place, this incident would not have occurred. To this, Dr Balakrishnan replied that he did not want to speculate, or “pre-judge”, and that it was better to wait for investigations to be completed.

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