22 Jul 2004

China, Singapore spat over Taiwan visit

The Sydney Morning Herald
July 22, 2004

A diplomatic spat between China and Singapore has deepened after Beijing delayed an invitation to a Singaporean trade delegation to protest against a visit by Singapore's future prime minister to Taiwan.

Beijing has responded with fury since Lee Hsien Loong - who will become prime minister next month - met Taiwan's leaders from July 10-12 in a visit that Singapore insists was unofficial but which Beijing has said had consequences.

Analysts said the diplomatic row was unlikely to affect trade or business ties.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs notified Singapore it was "delaying" an invitation to National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan to lead a delegation to Chengdu in western Sichuan province from July 28 to 30, a Singapore government official said.

The snub follows Beijing's decision last week to cancel a trip by its central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, to Singapore, where he had been due to speak at the wealthy city state's central bank.

Analysts said Beijing's actions appeared mostly symbolic and business ties looked strong.

They cited a multimillion dollar deal announced yesterday by a Singapore-based company to buy 30 per cent of China's largest ship repair company, Cosco Shipyard.


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