The Ambassador-at-Large at the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ong Keng Yong has urged both India and China to resolve disputes via peaceful means.
In a dialogue with ANI about the confrontations between India and China and their impacts on regional issues, Yong stated, “Two big countries will have different opinions on how to run things. We can put across our respective stand on different issues but in the end, we should close this discussion and get the best deal out of this – what is your best option, what is my best option.”
India and China have been engaged in a border stand-off sparked by the differing perceptions of the border between the two countries which is known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The stand-off was ignited in June 2020, after the deadly Galwan valley clash between the troops from the Indian Army and the PLA.
Singapore suggests the way forward
The Singaporean diplomat further discussed the code of conduct in the South China Sea and Singapore-ASEAN concerns about China’s aggressive policies on display in the region. Talking about the concern of aggressive Chinese policies by the Singapore-ASEAN, the Ambassador said, “From our perspective and South Asia’s, we have just found a way to negotiate, and compromise. I think that’s a way forward.”
Discussing the apprehensions and some roadblocks on policy-related issues with India, Yong remarked, “Basically, the challenge is how to meet the expectations of India and Singapore. We are a small city-state, and our approach to some economic and international issues differs from India. So, the question is how we meet halfway and get the best deal out of this.”
Further stressing on finding a conclusion to the ongoing negotiations regarding the code of conduct in the South China Sea, Ong Keng Yong stated that both parties needed to sit down and consider all possible scenarios to reach a “commonsensical conclusion.”
With regard to the different perspectives of the parties involved, the Singaporean diplomat further claimed that “if they maintain their respective positions, we cannot get any conclusion.”
The Singaporean diplomat also discussed India-Singapore relations during the interview with ANI. India and Singapore have had a history of close ties rooted in substantial commercial, cultural and people-to-people links across a millennium.
Following the conclusion of 2005’s Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), the robust relationship between both countries was elevated to a Strategic Partnership in 2015 during the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Singapore and on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between both the countries.
Recently, a Joint Ministerial delegation from India and Singapore, comprising of Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Singapore Lawrence Wong, Minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore, Gan Kim Yong and the Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and briefed him about the outcomes of the inaugural session of the India-Singapore Ministerial Roundtable (ISMR), held in New Delhi on September 17, 2020.
India and Singapore further have a longstanding and comprehensive partnership with regard to defence. This includes Annual Ministerial and Secretary level dialogues; Staff level talks between three wings of the Armed forces; training of Singapore Armed Forces in India; annual exercises; ship visits from the Navy and Coast Guard.
Furthermore, Singapore participates in IONS and multilateral Exercise MILAN hosted by the Indian Navy. The two countries also participate in the Trilateral Maritime Exercise with Thailand known as SITMEX.