China Seizes Singapore Military Equipment On The Way Home From Taiwan

Michael Turton , November 30, 2016 1:31pm

Taiwan has long maintained military relations with Singapore (if you’ve been on vacation in Kenting you’ve been within a stone’s throw of where Singapore troops stay in Taiwan). This week China struck at this relationship, seizing nine vehicles in transit through Hong Kong… (SCMP)

An armed forces team from Singapore was due in Hong Kong last night on a mission to establish why nine of their brand new military vehicles were seized and impounded by customs during their return from Taiwan.

Singapore’s top diplomat in Hong Kong has also become involved in what one military expert said could be a “strategic calculation’’ by Beijing which yesterday reaffirmed its opposition to any sovereign state having official or military ties what it regards as a renegade province.

Indeed, the intertubes are rife with speculation that this is aimed at SE Asia states that might be thinking of upgrading their bilateral or multilateral relations with Taipei. Recall that under the Ma Administration little was done about SE Asia, while the Tsai Administration has made the new Southbound Policy a cornerstone of the Administration’s foreign policy. China is also said to be unhappy with Singapore over recent political disagreements.

A posting to a discussion group I am added something further (reposted with permission of author):

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There is the angle of Taiwan-Singapore relations too, which China seems eager to further limit. Then there is the matter of whether this incident will restrict the Tsai administration’s efforts to reach out to Southeast Asia.

A little bit more background from what [the writer] have heard but am unable to independently verify at this point:

The shipper, APL, bought over the commercial shipping business of Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) earlier this year. NOL was a commercial shipping firm owned by the Singapore government via Temasek Holdings. Underperformance and a tough market forced the sell. NOL also previously handled the shipping of equipment for the Singapore Armed Forces to places like Taiwan and also Australia. APL currently runs the following route–Kaohsiung – Xiamen- HK – Shenzhen- Port Klang- Singapore- Kaohsiung. It appears that APL cut the Kaohsiung-Singapore route to streamline its business. However, the Singapore Armed Forces or Singapore Ministry of Defence may not have updated its shipping contract to ensure direct shipping.

Then there is the issue of the APCs themselves. The vehicle involves proprietary technologies from the US and Europe, in particular the armor, which may be subject to export control regulations. These vehicles being in Chinese ports including Hong Kong, may be in violation of these regulations. Then there is the battlefield management system. It is unclear if the battlefield management system was shipped with the vehicles in the accompanying containers. There is a good chance this is the case. The battlefield management system enables the Terrex to coordinate fires and exchange tactical information with other platforms like the AH-64D Apaches, F-15s, F-16s, and naval vessels. There is a good chance that this means it is compatible with the US/NATO LINK digital datalink system. A system that not only US forces and NATO use, but also Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. An upgraded version of the Terrex is under consideration as a finalist for the US Marine Corps ACV program.

Information on the Terrex below (all open source).
https://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/official_releases/nr/2012/oct/10oct12_nr2/10oct12_fs6.html
https://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/mindef_websites/topics/dtp/dtp2010/winners/abt_terrex1.html
http://www.stengg.com/products-solutions/products/terrex-8×8-armoured-personnel-carrier
http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/made-in-spore-terrex-a-key-addition-to-saf
http://www.saic.com/about/about-saic/feature-stories/terrex2
http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/st-kinetics-wins-us1215-million-us-marine-corps-contract-deliver-amphibious-combat-vehicle
http://www.stengg.com/press-centre/press-releases/st-kinetics-terrex-2-progresses-into-us-marine-corps-amphibious-combat-vehicle-programme
https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story/military/tech/2016/01/04/inside-amphibious-vehicles-won-marines-225m-contracts/77380728/

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China sure killed a lot of birds with this one stone….

Michael Turton

A long time expat in Taiwan.