Home > Asia
Sunday, December 4, 2016, 13:56

Singapore minister urges US focus on strategic interest in Asia

By Reuters
Singapore minister urges US focus on strategic interest in Asia
In this May 31, 2014 photo, Singapore's Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen speaks to reporters after hosting a ministerial lunch at the 13th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) in Singapore. (Stefanus Ian / AFP)

California – The United States should focus on larger strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region, including expanding trade ties, the defense minister of Singapore said on Saturday, when asked about the controversy sparked by US President-elect Donald Trump's phone call with the president of Taiwan.

Ng Eng Hen said it was not Singapore's place to comment on Trump's phone calls, but welcomed comments by his aides reaffirming Trump's support for the longstanding US "one China" policy, a policy also supported by Singapore.

We ought to have the larger strategic interests in mind

Ng Eng Hen, Defense Minister, Singapore

China lodged a diplomatic protest on Saturday after Trump spoke by phone with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan.

Trump's 10-minute telephone call with the Taiwanese leader was the first by a US president-elect or president since President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, acknowledging Taiwan as part of "one China".

The Singaporean official told the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in southern California that the bigger issue was how the United States would shape its role in the Asia-Pacific region in coming years, given China's rapid rise.

"We ought to have the larger strategic interests in mind," Ng said.

He said the US role in Asia should be multidimensional, including trade and commercial ties, not just focused on security issues, and the ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement would have been a "concrete, tangible commitment" to do just that.

Trump has already ruled out US participation in TPP.

Latest News