Caught between US and China, Singapore, happy 57th birthday
Happy 57th Birthday Singapore
It has not been easy for Singapore as a nation. This year marks Singapore’s 57th thriving year. We Singaporeans all hope it will last indefinitely. Lee Hsien Loong the prime minister has addressed National Day speech on TV.
Being united has always been a background in National Day speech. It is especially so this year. And I can sense the deep concerns that Singapore government has over the recent unsettling international events, in particular, Ukraine war and deteriorating China-Taiwan/US relationship. They cast shadows on Singapore’ own security.
Singapore geopolitical situation
As a small country, and maybe the only not anti-China (not ‘for China’ — do note that there is huge difference) South Asian country, Singapore has always been walking on tight-rope.
Make no mistake, Singapore might appear to have adopted a cooperative, open and positive attitude towards China and Chinese government but the high alert it keeps on China’s growing ambitions are deeply rooted since the beginning.
Maybe to many Chinese extreme nationalists’ surprise, Singapore founding father Lee Kuan Yew was very experienced in tackling communist ideology. He has fought hard to keep out the imported and homegrown communists. Some argued that Singapore’s modernisation and democracy will always carry its original sins: the famous operation ColdStore. Many extreme left (communists) were arrested and then exiled.
But I would applaud. Communists have long taken advantage of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly from democratic regimes but deprive people of it immediately after they seize power — exactly what they did in China. Maybe they don’t deserve any form of freedom, at least not more than what their people can have — maybe it’s only fair that they are treated the way they treat others.
Current with China
Singapore took sides of Ukraine against Russia because it is just a pure violation and invasion of one country to another with no excuse. Singapore’s very own safety depends on how well all the countries play by the rule. Russia might be far but it is setting up a very bad example which China, North Korea (two biggest regional threats) could gladly follow. China’s military exercise around Taiwan island suggests it is not entirely impossible.
If I have to relate Taiwan and China situation to Singapore and China situation, I could. Taiwan as a de facto country, has NOT been part of china for the past hundreds of years. It was ruled by Qing dynasty (before 1900), occupied by Japan, and then was given up officially after Japan lost the war ( whom was Taiwan returned to was not determined at the time). People Republic of China never in fact ever rules Taiwan for a single day. Yet it shamelessly claimed ownership.
It may never occur to Singaporeans how many similarities Taiwan and Singapore share, when it comes to China’s great ambitions on the map. China has long thought of Singapore as its backyard garden, if not part of China. Chinese people often refers to Singapore as “Singapore county (坡县)”, as it is too small to even make a province in China’s giant map, unlike Taiwan “Province”. There are 3 signs that should not be ignored:
- Since before Singapore’s independence, Beijing has sent communists to spread communism in Singapore and even started a coup hoping to take over PAP to rule Singapore.
- Same way China punished Singapore as how it punished Taiwan today. In 2015, Singapore seemed in agreement with the neighbouring South Asian countries on the South China Sea issues; It angered China, and Singapore armoured vehicles Terrex were seized in Hong Kong port by China and held for a few months. Why didn’t China punish Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia? Some of the Chinese nationalists’ comment on Military exercise in Taiwan area may shed some lights: We punish Taiwan because it is parent’s right and duty to beat up the mischievous child.
- Recent year has seen influx of Chinese immigrants into Singapore. Impact have started to surface: unbalanced racial ratio, foreign influence, nationalism (not Singapore’s) and values. Can we achieve unity in this case?
Future, with US?
It’s not easy caught between China and US(Taiwan). Since Lee Kuan Yew era, Singapore, as a small country, surrounded by not so friendly countries, is taking pragmatic approach in all its domestic and foreign policies. So it tries its best to keep China happy as it should be.
On the other hand, Singapore always has a good relationship with the US. And it would be in Singapore’s best interests to keep it that way, instead of leaning towards China. It’s obvious who poses a greater threat especially now and in the near future to the regional stability. Balance is delicate and is to keep at a cost, so is dignity.
Israel has always been a role model for Singapore as we have similar geopolitical situation, only its 10 times more harsh for Israel. To preserve sovereignty of a small country, it is crucial that all Singaporeans stand together, that the government stays alerted and vigilant and that we are always prepared.
For what’s worse, I hope it is clear to all South Asian countries, including Singapore that it is in their unanimous best interests that Taiwan stays a separate entity and Chinese’s ambitions to be kept at bay — its South China Map has to stop somewhere. Do not have any false illusions for China, especially for the CCP-ruling China. China may not have exhibit enthusiasm for colonisation in its history but it was never peace loving towards its neighbouring countries — how do you think China gets 56 ethnicities (not counting in Taiwan’s dozen ethnic groups) ? By volunteering? or by taking their lands. ( do not argue using US as example. people leave their lands to go to US for crying out loud).
Chinese love to call their country a sleeping lion. So don’t go unprepared when it wakes up besides you.
Sorry to feel compelled to tell a horror story on your birthday, Singapore. It’s just the way I love you and can’t stop worrying about your future. It’s been 13 years since we’ve been together.