Singapore, which is densely populated, has decided to purchase additional F-35B fighter jets to strengthen its air defense capabilities.
(The picture is taken from the DVIDS website)
[Compiled Chen Chengliang/Comprehensive Report] The British "Financial Times" reported that despite the continuous inflow of Chinese funds, Singapore has been more active in strengthening defense cooperation with the United States in recent years, including the deployment of the RQ-4 Global Hawk stealth drone of the US military in March this year. The United States has purchased 8 more F-35 fighter jets, increasing the order to 12, maintaining a delicate balance between the competition between the United States and China.
The "RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV" was deployed in Singapore in March and has become a solid backing for the US military's South China Sea strategy.
The report pointed out that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently did what many other global leaders were unable or unwilling to do: publicly praised the US's previously proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) in China.
He emphasized at the Boao Forum for Asia held in Hainan in March that Asia should always be an open region, and that while developing cooperation among Asian countries, it should also cultivate relations with the United States, Europe and the rest of the world.
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IPEF aims to reaffirm the United States' participation in the Indo-Pacific region through economic and trade cooperation and weaken China's influence in other countries.
A Singapore-based U.S. official said that Lee Hsien Loong pleased many U.S. decision-making officials by praising IPEF at China's large annual international conference.
According to reports, Singapore is one of the most important non-treaty allies of the United States in Asia, and Lee Hsien Loong's speech highlights the degree to which Singapore has adjusted to the escalation of Sino-US competition.
Singapore has always skillfully maintained a balance between its economic relationship with China and its reliance on the United States for security. However, in recent years, Singapore has been more active in deepening defense cooperation with the United States. It is the only country in Southeast Asia other than the Philippines that has done so.
According to sources, the "RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance aircraft" (Global Hawk), which is in service with the US Air Force and the US Navy, was deployed in Singapore in March.
The Global Hawk plays a pivotal role in the surveillance, intelligence, command, guidance and other services of the US military in the South China Sea.
In February, Singapore announced that it would exercise its option to purchase eight more F-35B fighters from the United States, increasing the order to 12.
A diplomat who was stationed in Singapore said that the deployment of RQ-4 Global Hawk in the South China Sea's backyard and the purchase of additional F-35 fighter jets show how strong Singapore now intends to establish a relationship with the United States. For the first time, Australia participated in the "Garuda Shield" annual joint military exercise between the United States and Indonesia; in June this year, Singapore will host the Shangri-La Dialogue, which is an important defense summit in Asia. The United States plans to send its largest delegation to the meeting this time .
So far, China has not challenged Singapore's delicate balancing act, with which it held last week their first military exercise since 2021.
But Beijing is also seeking to strengthen security ties with Singapore and Southeast Asia, including greater military engagement, raising tensions on another level, according to policymakers.
Moreover, Singapore's position has become tougher as hostility between the US and China has escalated, particularly over Taiwan and the South China Sea.
Zhuang Jiaying, an assistant professor of political science at the National University of Singapore, pointed out that several pressure points are approaching Singapore, especially the country's economic culture and China's involvement has become more and more serious in the past few years. Singapore will try to remain neutral, but if it chooses a side Arrival, "it is not clear what alternative plans Singapore will have if the neutral stance becomes unfeasible".