China calls on Singapore to be cautious in handling of detained Terrexes

A member of security gestures near the Terrexes at a customs and excise facility in Hong Kong on Nov 25, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING - China has called on Singapore to be cautious in its handling of the detention of the nine Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Terrex infantry carriers in Hong Kong, adding that the incident was being handled in accordance with the law, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday (Jan 9).

"I hope the relevant parties can be cautious in their remarks and actions," foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a ministry briefing.

"I want to stress that China hopes other nations, including Singapore, follow the 'one China' principle," he was quoted saying. "This is the foundation for bilateral ties between China and any other nation. I hope the relevant parties can follow the laws of Hong Kong, China," he added.

His comments came after Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Monday said the detention of the vehicles did not comply with international law.

He added that Singapore looks forward to the Terrexes being returned.

Speaking in parliament, Dr Ng explained that the vehicles are the property of the Singapore Government and protected by international law.

Under the principle of sovereign immunity, property belonging to a country cannot be seized or forfeited. This principle is well established under international law and also the law of Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China, Dr Ng said.

"Accordingly, the Singapore Government has asserted our sovereign rights over the SAF's Terrexes," Dr Ng said.

The nine armoured vehicles were seized by Hong Kong Customs on Nov 23 when they were in transit on their way back from a military exercise in Taiwan.

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