Just a day after China lodged protest with Singapore over Hong Kong customs' seizure of nine armoured vehicles, which arrived at the Kwai Chung container terminal from in a shipment from Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said that Singapore won't allow the issue to hamper the county's relationship with China.
The minister said, speaking at a Straits Times forum, that Singapore cherishes its longstanding relationships with the Asian giant and still firmly supports the One China policy which considers Taiwan as a part of China.
"One thing in Chinese culture is you never forget your old friends, people who were there with you in the beginning, people who were there with you through thick and thin, and surely in Chinese culture you appreciate this concept of loyalty to old friends," said Balakrishnan, as reported by The Channel News Asia.
"At the same time, you know full well where I stand, and I believe in One China and we will not deviate from that, we have not changed," he added.
It is also reported that the minister made it clear that the city-state is not hiding anything. "You all know, and everyone including China knows, that we have special arrangements with Taiwan for a long time. What we are doing there is no longer a secret, everybody knows that."
The Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles that were confiscated at Hong Kong's Kwai container terminal were used by the Singaporean army which often uses Taiwan as grounds for infantry training.
Meanwhile, Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the country will exercise its "full rights" in recovering the armoured vehicles along with all the components and accessories.
The minister said that Hong Kong authorities will meet representatives from APL, the commercial shipping line to transport nine Terrex ICVs and the matter will be discussed in depths.
"After this meeting, the reasons and legal basis for detention will be made clear. We have to wait for the outcome of the meeting," said Ng during a speech in a MINDEF event, according to the news agency.
"MINDEF (Ministry of Defence) and the Singapore Government will then commence proceedings to recover assets. We aim to comply with all regulations and then exercise our full rights in recovering our assets," he added.
On 29 November, China's Foreign Ministry said that it is against any form of official exchanges, including military exchanges with Taiwan by countries that have diplomatic ties with Beijing. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang also said that the country would appreciate if Singapore abides by Hong Kong's relevant laws and cooperate with the government in the investigation of the matter.