Singapore concerned over China's aggressive policies in Taiwan

U.S House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana Presidential Palace in Singapore on Aug 1, 2022. [AP]

Singapore has raised concerns about China's aggressive policies in Taiwan.

Through its Foreign Affairs Ministry, Singapore said it is concerned that the heightened tensions across the Taiwan Strait have affected the shipping industry and international companies doing business in this part of the world.

In July this year, Taiwan dismissed China's sovereignty claims over the Taiwan Strait waterway.

While accusing Beijing of distorting international law, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, Joanne Ou said by ignoring Taipei's sovereignty claim over the Taiwan Strait and downgrading the strait to its own exclusive economic zone (EEZ), China revealed its ambition to annex Taiwan.

Ou said the only waters over which any country has full sovereignty are its 12-nautical mile territorial waters.

Ambassador Ong Keng Yong said from Singapore's and South Asia's perspective, they have just found a way to negotiate and compromise. "I think that's a way forward".

"There must be a conclusion, otherwise we cannot reassure our shipping community and international companies dealing with business in this part of the world," said Ong.

The diplomat said the important thing now is that both sides have to sit down and go through all the possible scenarios and options and then come to a commonsensical conclusion.

"If they maintain their respective positions, we cannot get any conclusion," said Ong.

He said it is worth noting that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

Pelosi at the start of her Asian tour held talks with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, President Halimah Yacob and other Cabinet members.

But China condemned Pelosi's trip, which it regarded as a gesture of support for separatism, and launched large-scale military exercises in the vicinity of the island.

Later on, China announced it had conducted military drills near Taiwan.

Col Shi Yi, a spokesperson for the Eastern Theatre Command of the People's Liberation Army, said in a statement that the drills were a "solemn warning to the recent US-Taiwan collusion activities."

Although the statement didn't specify exactly where the drills were held, it said the command performed "multi-service joint combat readiness patrols" and "actual combat drills" in the sea and airspace around Taiwan.

Beijing considers Taiwan an unalienable part of its sovereign territory and opposes any official contact between the island and other countries.

Beijing has said that the "One-China" principle is a political foundation of China-US ties and those violations of these obligations would jeopardise cooperation between the two countries.