Foreign relations of Singapore
Singapore maintains diplomatic relations with 189 countries although it does not maintain a high commission or embassy in many of those countries. It is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth, ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement.
Due to obvious geographical reasons, relations with Malaysia and Indonesia are most important. Historical baggage, including the traumatic separation from Malaysia, and Konfrontasi with Indonesia, have caused a siege mentality of sorts. Singapore enjoys good relations with the United Kingdom which shares ties in the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) along with Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. Good relations are also maintained with the United States.
Singapore supports the concept of Southeast Asian regionalism and plays an active role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Singapore is a founding member. Singapore is also a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum which has its secretariat in Singapore.
As part of its role in the United Nations, Singapore held a rotational seat on the UN Security Council from 2001 to 2002. It participated in UN peacekeeping/observer missions in Kuwait, Angola, Kenya, Cambodia and Timor Leste.
Singapore and China have maintained long-standing and greatly prioritized close relationship, partly due to the latter's growing influence and essentiality in the Asia-Pacific region, specifying that "its common interest with China is far greater than any differences". Furthermore, Singapore has positioned itself as a strong supporter for China's constructive engagement and peaceful development in the region. It has engaged cooperation with other ASEAN members and China to strengthen regional security and fight terrorism, while participating in the organisation's first maritime exercise with the latter.
Timeline of Singapore foreign relationsEdit
- 7 August 1965 – Singapore and Malaysia sign the separation agreement.
- 9 August 1965 – The Malaysian Parliament votes to expel Singapore from the Federation; Singapore becomes independent after separating from Malaysia.
- 9 August 1965 – Ministry of Foreign Affairs was established and S. Rajaratnam becomes Singapore's first Minister for Foreign Affairs.
- 21 September 1965 – Singapore is admitted into the United Nations as the 117th member.
- 15 October 1965 – Singapore becomes the 22nd member of the Commonwealth.
- 8 August 1967 – Singapore becomes a founding member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
- January 1968 – Britain announces its intention to withdraw its armed forces from Singapore.
- September 1970 – Singapore is admitted into the Non-Aligned Movement.
- 14–22 January 1971 – Singapore hosts the 18th Conference of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
- April 1971 – Singapore, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand sign the Five Power Defence Arrangements.
- 31 October 1971 – The last British military forces withdraws from Singapore.
- 1973 – Singapore joins General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
- March 1981 – Singapore's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Tommy Koh, assumed the Presidency of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea.
- 3 October 1990 – Singapore and People's Republic of China establish diplomatic relations.
- January 1993 – Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Secretariat set up in Singapore.
- 26 February 1994 - Singapore and China signed an agreement to jointly develop the Suzhou Industrial Park.
- 5 May 1994 – United States media sensationalise the caning incident of American teenager Michael P. Fay who was convicted for vandalism.
- 1 January 1995 – Inauguration of World Trade Organization (WTO), Ambassador K Kesavapany is elected for a one-year term as Chairman of the General Council.
- 9–13 December 1996 – Singapore hosts the 1st WTO Ministerial Conference.
- 15 January 1998 – Singapore and United States announces agreement for US ships to use a planned $35 million naval base from 2000.
- 10 October 2000 – Singapore is elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) at the 55th session of the UN General Assembly.
- 14 November 2000 – Singapore and New Zealand sign Agreement on Closer Economic Partnership, Singapore's first bilateral Free Trade Agreement.
- 1 January 2001 – Singapore starts its two-year term in the United Nations Security Council.
- January 2001 – A pipeline feeding gas to Singapore from Indonesia's Natuna field in South China Sea opens.
- 13 January 2002 – Singapore and Japan sign the Japan-Singapore Economic Agreement.
- 6 May 2003 – Singapore and United States sign the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USS-FTA).
- 26 April 2005 – Singapore and Malaysia sign a settlement agreement concerning land reclamation in and around the Straits of Johor.
- 15–17 August 2005 – Singapore hosted a multi-national maritime interdiction exercise, codename Exercise Deep Sabre, participated by 13 countries.
- 23 August 2005 – Singapore and Australia sign a memorandum of agreement to allow Singapore Armed Forces to train on the Shoalwater Bay Training Area till 2009.
- 14 December 2005 – Singapore attends the inaugural East Asia Summit (EAS).
- 18 November 2007 - Singapore signed an agreement with China to jointly develop Tianjin Eco-city.
- 23 May 2008 - territorial dispute of Pedra Branca with Malaysia is largely settled through adjudication by International Court of Justice with Singapore getting Pedra Branca and Malaysia awarded Middle Rocks.
- 20 September 2010 - railway land owned by Malaysia through KTM is returned to Singapore in exchange for joint development of plots of land at prime locations, ending the 20-year impasse of the Points of Agreement.
- 23 November 2016 - 9 Terrex infantry carrier vehicles were detained in Kwai Chung Container Terminal at Hong Kong while en-route from Taiwan. The vehicles were detained for more than two months despite diplomatic efforts by Singapore to retrieve its assets, signalling deteriorating of ties with China.
Singapore's leaders are realists; they perceive a Hobbesian world where might makes right. The resultant siege mentality is due to Singapore's geographical weaknesses, mistrust of Malaysia and Indonesia due to historical baggage, and from how it stands out as a "little red dot in a sea of green", as then-President Habibie of Indonesia put it.
Singapore's first foreign minister was S. Rajaratnam, and the country's foreign policy still bears his imprimatur. Rajaratnam originally framed Singapore's foreign policy, taking into account "the jungle of international politics", and was wary of foreign policy "on the basis of permanent enemies." In 1966, S. Rajaratnam saw Singapore's challenge as ensuring its sustained survival, peace, and prosperity in a region suffering from mutual jealousies, internal violence, economic disintegration and great power conflicts.
In accordance with this worldview, Singapore's foreign policy is aimed at maintaining friendly relations with all countries, especially Malaysia, Indonesia, and ASEAN, and ensuring that its actions do not exacerbate its neighbors' insecurities. In 1972, Rajaratnam envisioned the world being Singapore's hinterland – integration into the world economy would ameliorate Singapore's inherent lack of natural resources.
Thus, Rajaratnam believed that maintaining a balance of power, rather than becoming a de facto vassal of some larger power, would provide Singapore with freedom to pursue an independent foreign policy. The interest in the Great Powers in Singapore would also deter the interference of regional powers.
|New Zealand||Agreement between New Zealand and Singapore on a Closer Economic Partnership||ANZSCEP||18 August 2000||14 November 2000||1 January 2001|||
|European Free Trade Association||Agreement between the EFTA States and Singapore||EFTA-Singapore FTA||11 April 2002||26 June 2002||1 January 2003|||
|Japan||Agreement between Japan and the Republic of Singapore for a New-Age Economic Partnership||JSEPA||October 2001||13 January 2002|||
|United States||United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement||USSFTA||19 November 2002||6 May 2003||1 January 2004|||
|Jordan||Singapore Jordan Free Trade Agreement||SJFTA||29 April 2004||16 May 2004|||
|Brunei||Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement||Trans-Pacific SEP||August 2005||1 January 2006|||
|Chile||18 July 2005|
|New Zealand||18 July 2005|
|India||India - Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement||India-Singapore CECA||November 2004||29 June 2005||1 August 2005|||
|Korea||Korea-Singapore Free Trade Agreement||KSFTA||28 November 2004||4 August 2005||End 2005|||
|Peru||Peru-Singapore Free Trade Agreement||PesFTA||September 2007||29 May 2008||Early 2009|
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is based in Singapore, of which Singapore is a founding member of. Singapore has long recognised the importance of APEC as an essential platform for promoting economic linkages and its benefits towards strengthening regional peace and security between member economies. Singapore has endorsed APEC's efforts at regional economic integration as well as its non trade agendas of human resource development, emergency preparedness and health. Singapore has since hosted the APEC forum in 2009.
The International Criminal Police Organization INTERPOL has opened its Global Complex for Innovation, or IGCI, in Singapore in 2015. As of 2016, the IGCI houses a global Command and Coordination Centre, the Organization's Capacity Building and Training Directorate, an Innovation Centre annex Cyber Research Lab, and the Cybercrime Directorate, which also incorporates the building's iconic Cyber Fusion Centre. The building is also used for large-scale projects and operations with a global impact, law enforcement trainings and cross-sector conferences with a nexus in the ASEAN region.
Singapore, although not a G20 member, has been invited to participate in G20 summits and its related processes in 2010, 2011 and from 2013 to 2017 as a representative of the Global Governance Group. In February 2017, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan attended the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bonn.
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
|Comoros||8 April 2013||
Both countries established diplomatic relations on April 8, 2013.
|Egypt||28 November 1966|
|Malawi||24 August 1998||
Both countries established diplomatic relations on August 24, 1998.
|Sierra Leone||9 April 2013||2013-04-09
Both countries established diplomatic relations on April 9, 2013.
|South Africa||11 October 1993||
|Togo||15 June 2012||
Both countries established diplomatic relations on June 15, 2012.
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
|Antigua and Barbuda||12 December 2016||
Both countries established diplomatic relations on December 12, 2016.
|Barbados||19 December 1996|
|Belize||23 August 1995|
|Canada||See Canada–Singapore relations
These ties are enhanced by the many Canadians who reside in Singapore, and the 83,000 Canadians that visit the city-state every year.
|Dominica||6 June 2012||
Both countries established diplomatic relations on June 6, 2012.
|Grenada||15 December 2000||
Both countries established diplomatic relations on December 15, 2000.
|Guyana||19 September 2002|
|Mexico||22 December 1975||See Mexico–Singapore relations|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||19 February 1999||
Both countries established diplomatic relations on February 19, 1999.
|United States||See Singapore–United States relations
Singapore and the United States share a long-standing and strong relationship, particularly in defence, the economy, health and education. The government of Singapore believes that regional security, and by extension, Singapore's security will be affected if the United States loses its resolve in Iraq.
Singapore and the US have strong defence relations; Singapore buys a large number of weapon systems from the US, and has close ties such as the F-16 detachment stationed at Luke Air Force Base. In return, the United States Navy is allowed to use Singaporean naval facilities, including the newly constructed Changi Naval Base designed with USN aircraft carriers in mind. Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 1990, the United States military is permitted to use Paya Lebar Airbase and Sembawang wharves; a US naval logistic unit was established in Singapore in 1992. Singapore routinely hosts American ships and American fighter aircraft. More than 100 American Navy warships call at Singapore annually, and there is a modest presence of less than 200 US military personnel based permanently in Singapore. Several naval bases in Singapore were built to US specifications, so as to allow American ships, especially carriers, to dock. In 2011, the US Navy announced plans to station several of its new Littoral combat ships in Singapore permanently.
Singapore also signed 'The Strategic Framework Agreement for a Closer Cooperation Partnership in Defence and Security' with the United States in 2005. The agreement gives a formal structure to addressing existing and future areas of bilateral security and defence cooperation. The Singapore government believes that regional security, and by extension Singapore's security, will be affected if the United States loses its resolve in Iraq. Singapore faces the threat of terrorism itself, as evidenced by the Singapore embassies attack plot. Singapore has pushed regional counter-terrorism initiatives, with a strong resolve to deal with terrorists inside its borders. To this end it has given support to the US-led coalition to fight terrorism, with bilateral cooperation in counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation initiatives, and joint military exercises. Relations with the United States have expanded in other areas, and the two countries take part in joint policy dialogues.
The Regional Emerging Diseases Intervention Centre (REDI), opened on 24 May 2004, is a joint US-Singapore collaboration to promote cooperation in tackling emerging infectious diseases. The centre facilitates the exchange of information and expertise on surveillance; prevention and control of, and research on, communicable and non-communicable diseases; and on bioterrorism concerns.
In July 2005, during his official visit to the United States, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President George W. Bush signed a Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) to strengthen defence and security cooperation. The Prime Minister again visited in the United States in May 2007.
In 2003, Singapore and the United States signed the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USSFTA), which came into force in January 2004. This is the first free trade agreement into which U.S. entered with an East Asian country.
In 1994, relations with U.S. were hampered for a brief period by the caning incident of American teenager Michael P. Fay who was convicted in Singapore for vandalism.
In September 2005, Singapore responded to the relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in the United States. Four Singaporean CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 45 RSAF personnel from a training detachment based in Grand Prairie, Texas, were sent to help in relief operations. They are operating out of Fort Polk in cooperation with the Texas Army National Guard.
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
|Armenia||01 July 1992||See Armenia–Singapore relations
Both countries established diplomatic relations on 1 July 1992.
|Bangladesh||See Bangladesh–Singapore relations
|Brunei||See Brunei–Singapore relations
In August 2005, Brunei's Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, Prince Mohamed Bolkiah arrived in Singapore for a three-day visit during which the two countries signed an agreement to eliminate double taxation, paving the way for further bilateral trade and investment.
|Cambodia||See Cambodia–Singapore relations
|China||See China–Singapore relations
Sino-Singaporean ties began much earlier than the founding of the People's Republic of China in October 1949. Migrant Chinese labourers escaping poverty and war came to what was known as Nanyang to the Chinese to Singapore which was part of British Malaya. Many ethnic Chinese Singaporeans derived their ancestral roots in southern China from Fujian, Guangdong and Hainan provinces.
Diplomatic ties between the two countries officially began on 3 October 1990. Singapore was the last country in South East Asia to formally recognise People's Republic of China out of respect to Indonesia, sensitivities in the region and fears from neighbouring countries of communism in those times. Singapore still maintains cooperation with ROC in terms of military training and facilities from an agreement in 1975. This is due to a lack of usable space in built-up Singapore. Hence China has offered Singapore to relocate some of its training facilities from Taiwan to Hainan province.
Bilateral ties took a dive when Singapore's deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong travelled to Taiwan for a private visit in 2004. The People's Republic of China was offended by the trip as it regards Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting reunification, and doesn't like it when countries have official relations with Taiwan. Later in 2004, Chinese government put bilateral relations on hold.
On 19 September 2005, Vice Premier Wu Yi of the People's Republic of China arrived in Singapore for a three-day visit. She led a delegation of ministers and senior officials at the 2nd Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation between the PRC and Singapore.
On 14 November 2010, Vice President Xi Jinping visited Singapore on a three-day visit to further develop bilateral ties. His visit also commemorated with the 20th year anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Singapore is China's 9th largest trading partner. While China is Singapore's 3rd largest trading partner which consisted of 10.1 percent of Singapore's total external trade from the previous year.
Other examples of close ties between Singapore and China include Singapore helping China to build up its industries such as the Suzhou Industrial Park. Singaporeans have also donated generously in the aftermath of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Since 17 April 2011 Chinese and Singaporean diplomatic, official and official ordinary passport holders able to enjoy 30-day transit visa-free service for entering each other's country.
|East Timor||20 May 2002|
|India||See India-Singapore relations
India and Singapore share long-standing cultural with more than 300,000 people of Indian origin living in Singapore.
Singapore was one of the first to respond to India's "Look East" Policy of expanding its economic, cultural and strategic ties in Southeast Asia to strengthen its standing as a regional power. Singapore, and especially, the Singaporean Foreign Minister, George Yeo, have taken an interest in establishing the Nalanda University.
Following its independence in 1965, Singapore was concerned with PRC-backed threats as well as domination from Malaysia and Indonesia and sought a close strategic relationship with India, which it saw as a counterbalance to PRC influence and a partner in achieving regional security. Singapore had always been an important strategic trading post, giving India trade access to Maritime Southeast Asia and the Far East. Although the rival positions of both nations over the Vietnam War and the Cold War caused consternation between India and Singapore, their relationship expanded significantly in the 1990s; Singapore was one of the first to respond to India's "Look East" Policy of expanding its economic, cultural and strategic ties in Southeast Asia to strengthen its standing as a regional power.
Economic and other tiesEdit
Singapore is the 8th largest source of investment in India and the largest amongst ASEAN member nations. It is also India's 9th biggest trading partner as of 2005–06. Its cumulative investment in India totals US$3 billion as of 2006 and is expected to rise to US 5 billion by 2010 and US 10 billion by 2015. India's economic liberalisation and its "Look East" policy have led to a major expansion in bilateral trade, which grew from USD 2.2 billion in 2001 to US 9–10 billion in 2006 – a 400% growth in span of five years – and to USD 50 billion by 2010. Singapore accounts for 38% of India's trade with ASEAN member nations and 3.4% of its total foreign trade. India's main exports to Singapore in 2005 included petroleum, gemstones, jewellery, machinery and its imports from Singapore included electronic goods, organic chemicals and metals. More than half of Singapore's exports to India are basically "re-exports" – items that had been imported from India.
|Indonesia||See Indonesia–Singapore relations
On 3 October 2005, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Bali, just two days after the Bali bombings. They agreed to strengthen the fight against terrorism and also discussed cooperation in the fields of economy, trade and investment.
|Iraq||27 December 1977||
|Israel||11 May 1969||See Israel–Singapore relations
Singapore and Israel enjoy very close bilateral relations. In 1965, Israel extended aid to newly independent Singapore by sending a mission to help build Singapore's economic and defense policy. Israel's representation in Singapore was first formalized in 1968, and relations have since expanded, building strong economic ties and signing bilateral agreements, particularly in areas such as business, technology, healthcare, and defense. Singapore and Israel also hold regular cultural exchanges, through the participation of Israeli arts and artists in Singapore's events, such as the Israeli Film Festival. Despite the close relations, Israel's airline El Al does not fly to Singapore as such a route would have to pass through the airspace of Indonesia and Malaysia, and neither of the countries maintain relations with Israel.
|Japan||See Japan–Singapore relations.
|Malaysia||See Malaysia–Singapore relations
Singapore was formerly part of Malaysia but separated in 1965 due to political differences and racial tension. There remains a high degree of economic and social inter-dependence between the two countries. For example, Singapore imports the vast majority of fresh meat and vegetables from Malaysia, and Malaysia supplies a large fraction of Singapore's fresh water according to two treaties. Many Malaysians work in Singapore, some living in Singapore as permanent residents, while many also commute from Johor Bahru daily. Bilateral relations are complex and have experienced many highs and lows over the last 40 years.
Singapore and Malaysia are both members of the Five Power Defence Arrangements. The two countries also routinely conduct joint military exercises to enhance bilateral ties and to heighten the professional interaction between the Singapore Armed Forces and Malaysian Armed Forces. In August 2005, the two countries concluded the 12th exercise of the series, Ex Semangat Bersatu 05 in Pahang.
Singapore has several long-standing disputes with Malaysia over a number of issues.
Malaysia and Singapore have clashed over the delivery of fresh water to Singapore, with Malaysia threatening to stop providing water and Singapore threatening to stop relying on Malaysia for water.
Relations between the two countries has improved in recent years, especially since the transition of leadership in both governments. These relations improved by leaps and bounds when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over the post as Prime Minister. Mahathir bin Mohamad, the ex-Prime Minister, still raises claims regarding Singapore's intentions in a number of matters, such as land reclamation. On 26 April 2005, the two countries signed a settlement agreement concerning Singapore's land reclamation in and around the Straits of Johor.
Both countries exchanged many high-level visits in 2004 and 2005, including the visit to Singapore on 12 January 2004 by Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who had just taken over from Mahathir bin Mohamad in October 2003.
|Mongolia||15 October 1987||See Mongolia–Singapore relations
|North Korea||8 November 1975||See North Korea–Singapore relations
Singapore and North Korea established diplomatic relations on 8 November 1975. North Korea maintains an embassy in Singapore while the latter has accredited a non-resident ambassador to Pyongyang from Beijing since 1990. The current North Korea ambassador to Singapore is Jong Song Il.
|Pakistan||See Pakistan–Singapore relations
|Philippines||See Philippines–Singapore relations
|Saudi Arabia||See Saudi Arabia–Singapore relations|
|South Korea||8 August 1975||See Singapore–South Korea relations
The establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Singapore and the Republic of Korea began on August 8, 1975.
|Taiwan||See Singapore–Taiwan relations
During British rule in Singapore and then under British Malaya before independence, Singapore and the Republic of China had diplomatic relations. When Singapore became independent in 1965 from Malaysia, it continued to recognise the Republic of China on Taiwan.
When Singapore established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1990, Singapore wanted to maintain its good relationship with Taiwan and it strongly bargained with the PRC to maintain close relations with Taiwan. Both countries have had unofficial relations since the independence of Singapore and establishment of Republic of China rule over the island of Taiwan. Taiwan has a representative office in Singapore. Conversely, Singapore is represented by what is known as the Singapore Trade Office in Taipei in Taiwan. The two nations have enjoyed an extensive relationship in many facets such as trade and defence, most noticeably being Singapore’s establishment of military bases in Taiwan for its troops to conduct overseas training.
Like Thailand where Singapore today adopted modern military training bases with, Taiwan was also under Japanese Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere influence leading up to post-World War II. Strategically, the Japanese occupation of Singapore and the Japanese occupation of Malaya was made possible and expedited because of Thai and Taiwanese varied involvements and / or assistances towards the Japanese war efforts. Since the independence of Singapore and the establishment of Kuomintang rule over the island of Taiwan, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) adopted military training bases in Taiwan from 1975 that included combined arms exercises involving infantry, artillery, and armored units. The then Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew also appointed uk military personnel in training Republic of Singapore Air Force. These exercises, engaging as many as 10,000 troops at one time, provided officers a chance to simulate wartime conditions more closely and gain experience in the command and control of operations involving several battalions.
With waning Taiwan diplomatic significance, the People's Republic of China has since succeeded the governance of mainland China in the aftermath of the Chinese Civil War. Attempts by the 2016 newly elected Taiwanese government in turning to South East Asian nations such as Singapore is subtly deemed as separatist.
In 2010, bilateral trade talks commenced to explore the feasibility of an economic cooperation agreement between the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (Republic of China) and Singapore, both of whom are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). On 12 September 2012, former Taiwanese Vice-President Lien Chan announced that talks between Taiwan and Singapore on a proposed economic partnership agreement are expected to be finalised by the end of the year. The successful implementation of this economic partnership would mean that both countries will enjoy free trade between one another.
Business and tradeEdit
The Taipei Representative Office in Singapore has been actively promoting trade as well as encouraging mutual start-ups by businesses and enterprises between the two countries. Moreover, in 2009, the Singapore Trade Office in Taipei was honoured for its role in developing close economic ties between the two sides. Taiwan is Singapore’s ninth largest trading partner, with bilateral trade topping S$35 billion in 2008.
When Singapore started building up its military soon after independence, the Republic of China (Taiwan) was one of the few places to offer assistance by providing training areas to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to conduct military exercises. This was crucial to Singapore as it was a small country which suffered from land-scarcity making it difficult to conduct large-scale military exercises for its soldiers. Since 1975, the Singapore Army has used bases in Taiwan for military training that included combined arms exercises involving infantry, artillery, and armoured units. These exercises, engaging as many as 10,000 troops at one time, provided officers a chance to simulate wartime conditions more closely and gain experience in the command and control of operations involving several battalions. Although China has officially offered Singapore to shift its training facilities to Hainan Island, this has been refused in order to maintain its policy of neutrality between the ‘One China’ policy and its relations with Taiwan. It also signals that Taiwan-Singapore ties are strong
Just before the current Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong took office from the then incumbent Goh Chok Tong, he made a visit to Taiwan to familiarise himself with the latest developments there. The Taiwanese media, however, made use of this opportunity to publicise his visit with the agenda of highlighting it to Mainland China. Controversy struck swiftly, with PRC Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhang Qiyue accusing Lee of "hurting the feelings of 1.3 billion Chinese". Meetings and business transactions between Singapore and the PRC were reportedly frozen overnight. As a result, in his maiden National Day Rally speech, Lee criticised the Taiwanese leadership and populace of overestimating the support they would receive if they were to declare Taiwan independence. Later that year in September, Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo cautioned the United Nations General Assembly about the dangers of letting the cross-strait relationship deteriorate. This led to Taiwan's Foreign Minister, Mark Chen, to famously describe Singapore as a ‘nation no bigger than a piece of snot’ (鼻屎大ㄟ國家) in Chinese. Supporters of Taiwanese independence also burnt the flag of Singapore as a sign of protest against George Yeo’s comments at the United Nations. This did not go down well with the majority of the Singaporean public. These incidents marked an all-time low in foreign relations between the two sides although Chen did make a formal apology later regarding his comments.
Issue of Taiwanese independenceEdit
On 3 October 1990, the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Singapore established formal diplomatic relations. Relationship between the two sides has since improved tremendously. As such, Taiwan's trade mission in Singapore was subsequently renamed from "Trade Mission of the Republic of China" to "Taipei Representative Office in Singapore". Even so, Singapore has always wanted to maintain its warm ties with Taiwan in order to show its neutrality on cross-strait relations. Although it officially supports the ‘One China’ policy, it must also be noted that Singapore is the only foreign country to currently own military bases in Taiwan and it continues to send its troops there for an annual military exercise known as Exercise Starlight (星光計畫).
The PRC has continuously advocated the possibility of moving some or all of these military facilities to Hainan, although this may not be taken up due to sensitivities in diplomatic relations between Singapore and her largely Islamic neighbours.
|Thailand||See Singapore–Thailand relations
|Vietnam||See Singapore–Vietnam relations|
|Country||Formal relations began||Notes|
|Belgium||10 October 1966||
|Denmark||28 September 1965|
|France||18 September 1965||
Singapore and France maintain relatively strong relations. This was strengthened in March 1999 on the agreement of a "Joint declaration for a strengthened partnership" during Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's visit to France.
|Germany||06 November 1965||See Germany–Singapore relations|
|Greece||21 October 1966||
|Holy See||23 June 1981||
The Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See is resident in Singapore while the embassy of Singapore in Brussels is accredited to the Holy See. Pope John Paul II made an official visit to Singapore back in 1986.
|Hungary||24 August 1970|
|Iceland||4 May 1999||
Both countries established diplomatic relations on May 4, 1999.
Although Italy and Singapore maintain diplomatic relations, Singapore does not have an embassy in Rome. During a visit to Rome in 2007, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew stated that opening an embassy could be a challenge because trade and people flow between Italy and Singapore has not reached a significant level yet.
|Kosovo||01 December 2016||See Kosovo–Singapore relations|
Upon Singapore's declaration of independence in August 1965, the Netherlands recognized Singapore as a sovereign state and established diplomatic relations with it, becoming one of the first European countries to do so. The Netherlands maintains its embassy in Singapore, while Singapore is represented in the Netherlands through its embassy in Brussels, Belgium.
Both countries established diplomatic relations on May 8, 1995.
|Romania||30 May 1967||
Romania has an embassy at the Orchard Tower in Singapore. Singapore does not have any representation in Romania. In February 2002 the Romanian president Ion Iliescu made an official visit to Singapore. In March 2002 Romania and Singapore signed a double-taxation agreement to facilitate the cross-flow of trade, investment, financial activities and technical know-how between Singapore and Romania. In November 2008, Singapore signed an open skies agreement (OSA) with Romania to allow greater flexibility on air services.
In 2000, trade between Romania and Singapore was US$15.5 million, roughly balanced. The Romanian market, with a relatively cheap and skilled labor force and advantageous tax laws, has been attractive to several Singapore companies who have established joint ventures in Romania. Forte, created in 1990 as a Romanian-Singapore joint venture for computer assembly, is an example. (However, in 2006 Forte was acquired by Siemens.)
|Russia||01 June 1968||See Russia–Singapore relations
Singapore and the Soviet Union (now Russia) entered into full diplomatic relations on 1 June 1968. The two nations engaged in trade and economic cooperation. After the start of Vladimir Putin's term, Singapore and Russia strengthened ties, participating in a number of regional meetings such as the ASEAN-Russia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum. Both Singapore and Russia are members of APEC.
|Serbia||22 August 1967||
|Ukraine||31 March 1992||
|United Kingdom||12 November 1965||See Singapore–United Kingdom relations
Singapore engages with the United Kingdom on a wide range of international issues, reflecting their close historical ties. As members of the Commonwealth, diplomatic relations are at a governmental level, rather than between Heads of State. In defence, Singapore and the United Kingdom share ties in the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) along with Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
|Australia||See Australia–Singapore relations
|New Zealand||22 November 1965||See New Zealand–Singapore relations
On 1 January 2001, New Zealand and Singapore entered into a Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) to improve relations and encourage trade and investment.
|Solomon Islands||21 April 1987||
Both countries established diplomatic relations on April 21, 1987.
International humanitarian effortEdit
- In December 2004, during the disaster wrought by the massive tsunami that hit Indonesia, the Singapore Armed Forces dispatched three Endurance class landing platform dock ships - RSS Endurance, RSS Persistence and RSS Endeavour off the coast of Meulaboh, one of the worst hit areas where all road access was cut off. Onboard these ships were medical and engineering teams and volunteers with NGOs. The ships were also loaded with medical supplies and heavy equipment to help clear roads and debris. Six Chinook helicopters and two Super Puma helicopters were also dispatched to Aceh, two Chinook helicopters and two Super Puma helicopters to Phuket, Thailand. C130s were also dispatched to ferry relief supplies to tsunami-hit areas.
- In September 2005, Singapore responded to the relief effort of Hurricane Katrina in the United States, by sending four CH-47 Chinook helicopters and forty-five RSAF personnel.
- In the aftermath of the 2005 Bali bombings, the Singapore Armed Forces sent a medical team, composed of two doctors, two nurses, and two paramedics, to Bali to help treat victims of the blasts at the Sanglah Hospital. (CNA)
- In October 2005, the Singapore Civil Defence Force dispatched a 44-member Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team to Pakistan to help in the relief and rescue operations following the 2005 Kashmir earthquake
Participation in the War on TerrorismEdit
During 15–17 August 2005, Singapore hosted a multi-national maritime interdiction exercise, codename Exercise Deep Sabre as part of the Proliferation Security Initiative to address the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Launched at Changi Naval Base and conducted in the South China Sea, the exercise involves some 2,000 personnel from 13 countries.
Singapore hosted the Regional Special Forces Counter-Terrorism Conference from 21–25 November 2005.
On 6 May 2004, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong delivered a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C. titled "Beyond Madrid: Winning Against Terrorism", expressing Singapore's view on the controversial and often criticised (see Criticism of the War on terrorism) war on terrorism.
International effort on anti-piracyEdit
In August 2005, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore agreed to conduct joint anti-piracy patrols in the Malacca Strait to increase security in one of the world's busiest sealanes Thailand later also joined in this effort.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore conduct trilateral, coordinated maritime surface patrols, known as the Malacca Strait Sea Patrols, and coordinated airborne surveillance under the 'Eyes in the Sky' arrangement. Other forms of cooperation between the littoral states include an agreement between Malaysia and Indonesia in 2007 to increase joint anti-piracy training in the Malacca Strait, the Surface Picture Surveillance System (SURPIC) launched by Singapore and Indonesia in May 2005, and the Malacca Strait Patrol Information System (MSP-IS) to share information about shipping in the Malacca Strait.
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