Xi’s call to Singapore: a subtle ‘reminder’ about the South China Sea?

Xi’s call to Singapore: a subtle ‘reminder’ about the South China Sea?

  • The Chinese leader congratulates Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong on winning re-election, vows to ‘overcome distractions’ to safeguard regional stability
  • To some experts it seemed a routine post-election call, to others a warning against siding with the United States

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday said China would work with Singapore to “overcome distractions” to safeguard regional stability, in remarks some experts interpreted as a subtle “reminder” not to take sides as Washington and Beijing spar over the South China Sea and other issues ranging from trade to technology to human rights.The remarks, made to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a phone call, came a day after Washington rejected Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and follow claims by China’s foreign ministry that the United States is disrupting regional peace and stability in the disputed waters.

“Xi said that the bilateral relationship is standing at a new historical starting point, and that the two sides should hold celebrations in flexible and diversified forms, so as to deepen public support for their friendship,” reported Chinese state news agency Xinhua.