Taiwan cherishes its long-standing relations with Singapore, the Presidential Office spokesman said Wednesday, in the wake of an incident in which Singaporean armored vehicles were seized in Hong Kong in transit from Taiwan.
Alex Huang (黃重諺) said that the Singaporean government has issued a statement confirming that there were no problems with the vehicles or the shipment.
“We highly value and cherish” the friendship between Taiwan and Singapore, Huang said.
His remarks came after Hong Kong customs officers on Nov. 23 reportedly seized containers carrying armored vehicles that were being shipped back to Singapore after a military training mission.
The Hong Kong customs officers said they had found “suspected controlled items” during a routine inspection of the ship, which was transiting from Taiwan to Singapore.
Singapore has confirmed that the Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles belonged to its military and had been used in “overseas training,” but it did not confirm that the training mission had taken place in Taiwan.
On Tuesday, Singapore’s Minister for Defense Ng Eng Hen said Singapore would continue to send its troops on overseas training missions based on existing agreements and that it was no secret where they had been training.
The nine armored vehicles were being transported on a ship that embarked from Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan and was en route to Singapore via Hong Kong.
Kaohsiung customs officers said the shipment of Singapore military gear and vehicles was being legally transported to Singapore.
According to Ng, it is customary for Singapore to use commercial shipping to transport its non-sensitive military equipment to and from overseas training missions but it was the first time that its equipment had been seized.
Many other countries also transport non-sensitive, unarmed military gear aboard commercial vessels because it is cost effective, Ng said.
Although it was not a secret where Singapore had been training its armed forces, the minister said, people should not make groundless comments about the incident before the facts are known.
Singapore military’s overseas training programs are implemented based on its bilateral agreements with foreign parties, and such programs will continue, Ng said.
The shipping line that was transporting the nine armored personnel carriers was in talks with Hong Kong customs and Singapore’s military will get to the bottom of the incident, according to Singapore officials.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong media outlets have been speculating that Beijing had a hand in the incident and was trying to pressure Singapore into ending its military exchanges with Taiwan.
Following the incident, China said that it was opposed to any military exchanges between its diplomatic allies and Taiwan.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel