China denies conducting 'influence operations' in Singapore

China denies conducting 'influence operations' in Singapore

China has struggled to steer its giant economy through a slowdown
A Chinese flag flutters in the wind. (Photo: AFP/Greg Baker)

SINGAPORE: The Chinese Embassy in Singapore on Friday (Jul 19) refuted a report alleging that Beijing has been conducting influence operations in Singapore, calling it “absurd”.

The Jul 16 report, published by US research institute the Jamestown Foundation, said that “the fundamental purpose of Chinese propaganda and influence operations in Singapore is to impose a Chinese identity on Singapore”.

The report, titled A Preliminary Survey of CCP Influence Operations in Singapore, also claimed that China uses cultural organisations, clan associations, business associations, youth programmes and the Chinese-language media to reach out to different segments of Singaporeans.

It said that business associations act as the “most powerful lobby for Chinese interests” in Singapore, and that they have lobbied the Singapore Government on behalf of “pro-PRC positions”.

Singapore media, including the Straits Times, had reported on the analysis by the report's author Mr Russell Hsiao, who is the executive director of the Global Taiwan Institute.

Responding to the Straits Times report, the Chinese Embassy said that the allegations are “groundless and distorted from truth”.

In a Facebook post, an embassy spokesperson said that the report aims to “alienate the friendship of our two peoples” and “hinder normal exchanges between the two countries”.

“The unique connections in history and culture between China and Singapore, a natural advantage in promoting bilateral cooperation, are unfortunately taken by someone as an excuse for attack, thus hurting not only China but also Singapore,” said the spokesperson. 

“Lies are lies. The more they are repeated, the more nonsense they are.”

The Jamestown article said that while many governments engage in influence operations, China uses “united front tactics”, with a "holistic approach" to the operations unlike other countries.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s policies of “blurring the line between 'Chinese people' and 'overseas Chinese' intensified propaganda, and new laws related to overseas Chinese have all caused heightened concern in Singapore”, Mr Hsiao wrote.

“Singapore’s government views identity as an existential issue, and is likely to resist CCP efforts to make inroads in this area.”

It also claims that Singapore is being pressed to pick sides as the strategic competition between the United States and China grows.

But the Chinese Embassy denied this.

“We are pleased to see Singapore's achievements of exchanges and cooperation with all countries. We respect Singapore as a multi-cultural and multi-religious state and will remain committed to developing friendly relations with Singapore on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit,” said the spokesperson.

Source: CNA/hm(gs)

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