It’s business as usual, island’s foreign minister says, though analysts suggest city state may gradually pull back from decades-old deal
Taiwan said on Monday that it had been assured by Singapore that a long-term military agreement between the two sides would remain in place.
“[Singapore said] everything would be the same as usual,” Taiwan’s Foreign Minister David Lee said in reference to Project Starlight, a deal signed more than 40 years ago that involves Singaporean troops travelling to Taiwan for military training and joint exercises.
His comments came amid speculation that improving relations between China and Singapore might lead to the city state terminating the arrangement, which has long been a thorn in Beijing’s side.
During a legislative session on Monday, Lee was asked by opposition Kuomintang politician Johnny Chiang whether a visit by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Beijing last month might have had an impact on Project Starlight. The South China Morning Post cited military observers and others familiar with the matter as saying at the time that the trip might result in the agreement being put on hold.
The foreign minister responded by saying he had been visited by officials from Singapore (after Lee’s Beijing trip) who told him that there would be no change to the military arrangement.
His comments were the first by a senior Taiwanese official following the speculation over the future of Project Starlight.
Taiwan has been unnerved by suggestions that Singapore might end the agreement as it has been facing increased diplomatic isolation as a result of pressure from Beijing, which was angered by the refusal of the island’s President Tsai Ing-wen to accept its one-China policy.
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