BEIJING: China on Monday (Jan 9) called for caution with words and actions, after Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told Parliament that Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) armoured troop carriers held in Hong Kong are protected by sovereign immunity and cannot be legally detained.
The nine SAF Terrex vehicles have been stuck in a Hong Kong port for nearly two months, amid queries over licences and declarations by the commercial shipping firm that had been transporting them from Taiwan to Singapore after a military exercise.
"It is hoped that all relevant countries, including Singapore, can earnestly respect the one-China policy, which is the fundamental prerequisite for China to develop ties with other countries," Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang said in response to a reporter's question during a regular briefing.
"Second, we hope the Singaporean side can respect the laws established by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR). As far as I know, the Hong Kong SAR government is handling the matter in accordance with relevant laws and regulations," he said. "We hope that all relevant sides can be cautious with their words and actions."
Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan had told Parliament on Monday that Singapore's relations with China and interactions with Hong Kong and Taiwan are based strictly on the one-China policy.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has written to Hong Kong leader CY Leung to request the return of the troop carriers. Hong Kong authorities have responded, saying an investigation is ongoing and "will take some time to complete", Dr Ng said.