Singapore deputy PM’s Hong Kong visit ‘reaffirms long-standing friendship’ after seized military vehicles saga
Teo Chee Hean attended a reception with the chief executive and met with incoming leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor during two-day visit
Singapore declared its commitment to “strong bilateral cooperation” with Hong Kong during a visit by the city state’s deputy prime minister, and following a high-profile spat involving the seizure of armoured military vehicles.
Teo Chee Hean, also Singapore’s coordinating minister for national security, arrived in the city on Tuesday and attended a reception hosted by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying at Government House.
He was scheduled to meet former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa on Wednesday, as well as business leaders and Hong Kong’s Singaporean community before wrapping up his two-day visit.
Teo is the highest-ranking Singaporean official to visit the city since a diplomatic row emerged over nine troop carriers which were detained in Hong Kong in November while en route to the city state from Taiwan.
Watch: The Singapore vehicle seizure explained
The seizure at Kwai Chung container terminal sparked a war of words between China and Singapore, and a two-month investigation by Hong Kong Customs into suspected breaches of local laws.
The vehicles returned to Singapore in January and a mainland ship captain was charged for importing strategic commodities without the necessary licence.
Teo’s visit, however, showed little sign of strained ties between the Singaporean and Hong Kong governments.
While the government did not reveal further details of Teo’s visit, a media statement from Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed he had met Hong Kong chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.
“Mrs Carrie Lam hosted Teo to lunch, during which Teo congratulated her on her recent electoral success. They also exchanged views on developments in Singapore, Hong Kong and the region,” the statement read.
“Teo expressed confidence in Hong Kong’s future development and reaffirmed Singapore’s commitment to build upon the strong bilateral cooperation in areas including public service, housing, transport, culture and education.”
Teo also invited Lam to visit Singapore.
During his meeting with Leung on Tuesday, Teo congratulated the outgoing chief executive on his appointment as vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Beijing’s top political advisory body.
“Teo and CE Leung reaffirmed the long-standing friendship at all levels between Singapore and Hong Kong and expressed appreciation that officials from both sides continue to have frequent exchanges to share experiences over the years,” the statement read.
Teo reiterated the city state’s support for the “one country, two systems” framework as key to assuring Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity, and voiced his support for further economic integration in the Pearl River Delta region.