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PacNet #44 – The China-Singapore Row & Sino-U.S. Rivalry

October 7, 2004

The visit of Lee Hsien Loong (then deputy prime minister and now PM) to Taiwan in early August sparked an exceptional row between Singapore and China. Although both countries have long recognized Singapore’s “special relations” with Beijing, this visit provoked Beijing’s wrath to an extent that surprised Singapore and its ASEAN and Asian neighbors. In the aftermath of this “crisis,” Beijing cancelled a series of bilateral visits and exchanges, from officials and ministers to students and journalists; China even threatened to derail the start of Sino-Singapore Free Trade Agreement negotiations scheduled for later this year.