Beijing urges ‘caution’ in handling of Singapore’s seized military vehicles
Foreign ministry spokesman stresses impound in Hong Kong is in accordance with the law
Beijing has called on Singapore to be cautious in its handling of the seizure of nine of its military vehicles in Hong Kong.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Monday that the Hong Kong government was handling the incident in accordance with the law, after Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the detention of the vehicles did not comply with international law.
“I hope the relevant parties can be cautious in their remarks and actions,” Lu said.
“I want to stress that China hopes other nations, including Singapore, follow the one-China principle. This is the foundation for bilateral ties between China and any other nation. I hope the relevant parties can follow the laws of Hong Kong, China.”
On Monday, Ng told Singapore’s parliament that the vehicles were the property of the Singapore government and thus protected by international law. The vehicles could not be seized or forfeited under the principle of sovereign immunity, according to a statement posted on the nation’s defence ministry website.
The nine Singapore Armed Forces Terrex infantry carriers were impounded by Hong Kong customs on November 23, when they were returning to Singapore after a military exercise in Taiwan.
A Hong Kong customs spokesman said last week that the vehicles have been stored indoors since December 6.
“The Singapore government has asserted our sovereign rights over the SAF’s Terrexes,” Ng said.
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has written to Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on the matter, Ng said.
Relations between Singapore and China have deteriorated in recent months, with Beijing criticising the city state for taking the side of the United States regarding disputed land and water in the South China Sea.
Diplomatic observers said the tough response from Beijing was a warning to Singapore not to meddle in the maritime dispute and to cut off military ties with Taiwan.
The military ties between Singapore and Taiwan date back four decades, and Beijing is well aware of them. But tension between Beijing and Taiwan escalated after independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen was inaugurated in May.