Singapore – China Relations: A Chess Game?

by Patrick Liew on May 22, 2017

1. There’s a chess game going on between Singapore and China to see who would make a disadvantageous move.

On one hand, China is sending negative signals.

On the other hand, they know that Singapore is still of use to them.

Singapore has been China’s largest foreign investor since 2013 and a nett contributor since Deng Xiaoping opened up the economy.

We are still a needed partner for the OBOR and their future.

2. Trade to the U.S. is a power play and a bargaining chip for foreign influence and relations.

For China, it used to be that trading is an extension of foreign relations.

It’s somehow changing its position and seeking stronger geopolitical control and influence through trade and commerce.

In that sense, the motive for initiating OBOR is suspect and more than what meets the eyes.

3. China knows that SG holds an influential position in both the regional and global geopolitical arenas.

They are leveraging on Trump’s nativist nationalism to see if we’ll change our foreign policy and direction.

They want us to stand on their side or at the least, lean towards them.

Hence, the current blow-hot-and-blow-cold relationship.

4. As a small nation, we have to stay wisely neutral.

We have to support a world that is governed by laws, rules and principles and not by strength, might or force.

We must engage and enroll others to support a rules-based world order and the multilateral institutions which uphold such an order.

We cannot compromise or be seen to compromise our principles-based stand.

There are no free lunches. If we stretch out our hands for goodies or import debt from a stronger country, there may be a price or a favour to return.

If we take a transactional or short term approach, we may not be taken seriously in the long term.

Or worst, we may find ourselves being shoved around on the geopolitical stage in the future.

5. Let’s continue to engage China and demonstrate to them that we have stood by them.

We will continue to stand by them but we stand on principles for the good of the world and the environment.

By doing that, we will have a more stable, secure and sustainable relationship.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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