I refer to the commentary by Chan Kunthiny, titled “Can Singapore be an honest regional broker?”, published by Khmer Times on 1 February 2018. The commentary seems to suggest that Singapore has taken sides against China. I am writing to correct this misperception.
Singapore is a good friend of both China and the US. The 2017 visits of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Beijing in September and to Washington DC in October highlight the importance Singapore pays to broadening and deepening ties with our major partners. Other Singapore leaders also regularly visit both China and the US to better understand the respective government’s priorities and perspectives. Economically, Singapore has been the largest foreign investor in China since 2013 and is the second largest Asian investor in the US, which is a testimony to the confidence we have in both economies.
Our cooperation with China has been longstanding. Our multi-faceted cooperation with China has constantly evolved to keep up with each other’s changing developmental priorities and capabilities. Aside from our three government-to-government projects of the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park, the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city and the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity, we have many high-level bilateral mechanisms for both sides to discuss existing and new areas of cooperation.
Singapore has consistently supported China’s peaceful development and welcomed China’s active participation in a rules-based international order. We are an early supporter of Chinese initiatives such as the Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
This is because Singapore believes that a successful China is not only good for its citizens but for the region and the world.
At the same time, we also support continued US engagement in the region. As a major investor and security guarantor in the region, the US has undergirded peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacific since the end of World War Two.
As previously articulated by my Prime Minister, Singapore believes that the Asia Pacific region is big enough to accommodate both China and the US. 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.
We fully agree that the US and China should “cultivate common circles of friends” and Singapore is part of this common circle of friendship.
Singapore seeks to be a friend to all and an enemy to none. We are a founding member of Asean and will always advocate for Asean’s unity and centrality. As Asean 2018 Chair, Singapore will continue to promote an open, transparent and inclusive regional architecture and act as an honest broker to build trust between all regional stakeholders.
It would be most appreciated if Khmer Times can publish this letter in full, in the interest of professionalism, objectivity and openness, so that your readers can be accurately informed.
Michael Tan is Singapore Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia.