05 November 2015
When the mainland fired missiles into waters near Taiwan in 1996, Lee Kuan Yew made a public plea for calm.
“China’s leaders have referred to me as an old friend. I am an older friend of Taiwan,” the late Singapore leader recalled in his memoirs.
“If either one is damaged, Singapore will suffer a loss. If both are damaged, Singapore’s loss will be doubled. Singapore benefits when both prosper, when both cooperate and help each other prosper.”
Lee was gently rebuffed by the mainland’s vice-premier Qian Qichen, who said it was an internal matter that did not involve outsiders.
Publicly, that was Beijing’s consistent stance: Lee and Singapore are not part of the China family. But privately, the island nation is regarded as a close family friend.
So while Saturday’s summit between President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou caught most observers by surprise, the location was predictable.
“There are not many choices of venue for mainland China and Taiwan to conduct this kind of meeting at the highest political leadership level,” said analyst Li Mingjiang of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
GPO / IDSS / Online
Last updated on 13/11/2015