“Exercise Starlight” is coming to en end, according to the Global Times. Citing unnamed Hongkong media, it speculated that the 42-year-old tradition of Singapore soldiers training its soldiers in Taiwan would soon cease, following Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s visit to Beijing.
It said: “Though there hasn’t been any official announcement, such military exchanges should have been stopped long ago…
“The ‘Starlight programme’ is an unsolved problem between China and Singapore. In 1975, then Taiwan leader Chiang Ching-kuo and then Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew signed the programme. Since then, Singapore has been sending troops almost every year to Taiwan for training, more than 10,000 soldiers in peak years.”
Global Times said the Chinese mainland has tolerated the “Starlight programme” for a long time due to historical reasons. The “illegitimate” nature of this programme means it will be increasingly difficult to carry on.
It added: “At a time when the Tsai Ing-wen administration of Taiwan refused to recognise the 1992 Consensus and Singapore also turned its back on the Chinese mainland, the Starlight programme became conspicuously peculiar. Last September, when Singapore’s armoured vehicles were intercepted in Hong Kong on their way back from Taiwan, this programme was exposed.
“Taiwan wanted to use this cooperation with Singapore to prevent the latter from fully supporting the mainland. The US is fond of seeing Singapore and Taiwan maintain this bond, as both of them are its pawns.”
It said: “When cross-Straits relations were stable and Sino-Singaporean ties sound, the Chinese mainland tolerated the programme. However, this programme no doubt damages the one-China principle. The Chinese mainland reserves its right to change its approach to it at any time.
“Singapore has long sensed the short life of this programme, which is why it has leased a large training facility in Australia.”