Is China destabilising Singapore to seal its conquest of South China Sea?

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Picture Credit: Online Grab from South China Morning Post

China has set its radar onto the tiny Republic of Singapore, which it sees as a final hurdle in its grand designs to impose its will with the belt and road initiative (BRI).

At least, this is what opponents to the Chinese plans within the Asean grouping are hinting at, saying the plans to keep its might in the SCS are now visible trough the evolution of the OBOR over the past three years.

And China now sees Singapore as a hurdle in its global domination plans, that would engulf the entire Malacca Straits which Beijing once considered as ‘a problem Straits.’

China’s global domination plans started with the announcement of a Maritime Silk Route that was readily embraced by Singapore in 2014.

Over the years, the Maritime plans shifted into a massive infrastructure belt road on land that would also touch the seas from Asia to Africa and Europe but it could turn the Asean nations into Chinese satellite states says some.

And Beijing sees Singapore as an irritating point in its initiatives to ‘free’ the world from the ‘old order’.

And this has surely raised questions in many capitals where there was less enthusiasm to join the Chinese government’s vision of trade, maritime navigational freedom as well as military sovereignty.

BEIJING AS SOLE GLOBAL POWER?

In yesterday’s edition of the Malay Mail printed version a pro-Chinese OP-ED titled ‘Belt and Road Forum: China’s three messages to the world’ and written by Chia Siang Kim from the Anbound Research house in Kuala Lumpur, a clearer picture emerges on China’s haste with the BRI.

The writer said: “Beijing is seeking to emerge as a new leader from this global economic uncertainty and paranoia.”

It said Chinese President Xi Jinping is not hesitant to declare China’s intention to take over the leadership of ‘globalisation’ and to reform the governance of the global economy (Of which Singapore is an active participant).

It is also not sitting and waiting for institutional reforms in the international order which includes the global system of economic governance.

Xi’s call – while resonating well with the Third World’s leaders – does not sit well with ‘developed world’.

Singapore is part of that developed world.

With Singapore now seen as a partner to India’s own initiative that runs counter to China’s OBOR and conducting mutual military exercises, China is determined to push forward with its plans regardless of India’s objection and the cautiousness of several major developed countries as well as the European Union.

Again in Malay Mail’s printed version dated October 30, 2014, a Malaysian economist Dr Shankaran Nambiar said the Maritime Silk Route showed China was keen to extend its sphere of economic influence over the Asean.

He said Malaysia will gain with the Maritime Silk Route because the Straits of Malacca is one of the world’s most important shipping lanes, with 60,000 vessels plying through its waters every year, and accounting for more than 30 per cent of world trade.

But in 2014, Malaysia did not show much interest in these plans as it was still courting America with Najib’s high profile golf stint with the US President Barack Obama.

At that time, the 1MDB scandal did blow into Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s face, and the country was not in the hunt for the stolen billions in Switzerland, Singapore, the United States and so on.

In the run-up to the 1MDB scandal, China’s own scandalous movements in the South China Sea became the talk among the Asean nations, with some supporting its actions while others (like Singapore) was seen as opposed to it.

PHILIPPINES-MALAYSIA PLAYING OWN CARDS

And with the regime change in the Philippines where President Roderigo Duterte came to power, the geopolitics of the region changed, leading to both Najib and the Philippines making private deals with Beijing for their own ends.

Singapore is the country that did not see it mandatory to make any private deals with China, nor to support its move in the SCS.

With the BRI snub, Singapore is now seen as a less-friendly state by the Chinese standard since Beijing has been unhappy with the Asean nation since Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s speech at a dinner with President Barack Obama in August last year.

In China’s strategy, it is using the South China Sea conflict as the stepping-stone for what looks like its final solution to its untold intention to achieve complete domination of the region.

But to achieve that, it has to push for the political destabilisation of Singapore, thus putting the People’s Action Party (PAP) into its war path.

Yet, the Chinese push in the region and in the SCS is a double edged sword as China is also in conflict with its neighbours in the East China Sea.

Which brings Japan and South Korea in the picture.

NEW AXIS OF EVIL?

These two countries are part of an axis with the United States that is working in the shadows to stir conflicts inside China, through the actions of ‘democratic’ forces in Hong Kong and elsewhere in the country.

In response to this, President Xi moved in to have a firmer grip on power, the extent of which has never been seen in Chinese political history, said observers.

After less than five years as China’s leader, Xi Jinping has become one of the most powerful people in the nation’s modern history, outshining his immediate predecessors, said CNN.

A relative enigma when he came into power, in this first term Xi has revealed himself as not only an economic and political conservative but also a skilled populist.

Translate this into regional and global politics, it means that China now has a leader who can match those of America and the West and it also indicates that China may be on a different path in the SCS after all.

It is a step further in the country’s aims to dominate and to take over as a global super-power.

And if tiny Singapore is to play fiddle to Western powers and India, it is then an obvious target for China.

And Beijing is probably thinking that if it brings down Singapore’s PAP, it will have a free reign in the SCS and win the Asean on its side.

Some of its action are the reopening of the Pedra Branca case by Malaysia, a move pinned on China by regional analysts, and the destabilisation of the PAP.

Singapore’s Ambassador at Large, Bilahari Kausikan said that China is instigating the local Chinese in Singapore to destabilise the PAP government.

And there is also the attempted funding of the Thai’s Kra Canal, denied by China in the aftermath but is worth pondering upon.

Nevertheless, the one thing that can stop Beijing in its antagonism against Singapore will be an acceleration of the deterioration of its domestic situation.

That is now left in the powers of the anti-China axis composed of the USA-Japan-South Korea to act.