Nowadays, in the age of globalization, cooperation among sovereign states has become one of multiple trends in developing international relations. In that sense, every country in the world is open to the idea of multilateralization and diversification for the purpose of utilizing foreign resources in civil development. Thus, history of relations among different countries is an enticing topic, attracting many local and international researchers, of which the relations between the Republic of Singapore and the People’s Republic of China are of special interest.
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MINISTRY OF EDUCATION& TRAINNING
TON NU HAI YEN
SINGAPORE - CHINA RELATIONS
FROM 1990 TO 2010
Major: World history
BRIEF OF THE HISTORY THESIS
NGHE AN - 2016
1. The reasons for choosing topic
1.1. Nowadays, in the age of globalization, cooperation among sovereign states has become one of multiple trends in developing international relations. In that sense, every country in the world is open to the idea of multilateralization and diversification for the purpose of utilizing foreign resources in civil development. Thus, history of relations among different countries is an enticing topic, attracting many local and international researchers, of which the relations between the Republic of Singapore and the People’s Republic of China are of special interest.
1.2. Singapore is a small island city-state with limited land area, natural resources, and work force. However, the country occupies a strategic geographic location regarding national security and international trade. Singapore, known as one of four “Asian Tigers”, is among the leading developed nations with advanced technologies, a flourishing economy, and experience in economic development. Because of its various characteristics, Singapore’s development depends greatly on external factors, with foreign relations being one of the most important aspects affecting its survival in the international market. In fact, Singapore has thoroughly followed its policies regarding open market, global integration while being practical under every circumstance.
China, on another hand, is a country with a large mass of land, plentiful natural resources, and cheap work force. It is also a constantly rising nation, the world’s leading manufacturer, and a massive financial market that attract investments from many countries, including Singapore. As China’s economy continue to grow, its political and economic influence on foreign states is also expanding, especially in Southeast Asia.
Singapore and China have multiple similarities regarding race, language, and culture, with the population of immigrant Chinese living in Singapore making up for ¾ of its total population. [24;p.26]. History shows that the two nations’ current relationsare rather unique. Because of the sizable Chinese comminuty in Singapore, the city-state has been suspected by its neighboring countries to be Beijing’s “Trojan horse” in Southeast Asia. On 3/10/1990, Singapore became the last state in the area to establish foreign relations with China.
The similarities and differences between the two countries raisedmany questions: What do they aspire to accomplish in their relations? How can a small country such as Singapore can both protect its sovereignty and utilize the advantages provided by a big nation with a constantly growing economy such as China? What would China gain by establishing relations with Singapore? What is the nature of their 20-year relations? What is the characteristics of this relations? How can immigrant Chinese in Singapore play a part in improving relationship between the two nations? How can Vietnamemes influenced by it?
Researching Singapore - China relations from 1990 to 2010 by answering those questions would not only reveal the reasons for changes in the countries’ foreign policies after the Cold War, but also, more importantly, explain in details the nature, characteristics, and influences of relations between a small city-state and a colossal as well as ambitious nation with immense potential.
1.3. Vietnam and Singapore are both members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, hence, historical, cultural, and social researches concerning each country’s foreign relations have multiple sign ificantscientific and practical benefits. In contemporary Vietnam, the number of researches about Singapore is rather limited and mostly focused on Singapore’s successes in the establishment and development of its social economy, the Vietnam - Singapore relations, etc. Little to no effort was put in studying the relations between Singapore and China. At the present, Vietnam has established relations with both Singapore and China and researching the relations between those countries can yield important experience regarding foreign policies as well as help fill the void of historical knowledge of Singapore in Vietnam.
Based on the aforementioned scientific and practical benefits, we decided to choose the “Singapore - China Relations from 1990 to 2010” topic as the subject for our history thesis.
2. Research objectives
The thesis research focuses on analyzing the development of the 20-year Singapore - China relations (1990 - 2010) in the fields of politics - diplomacy, security - defense, commerce, investment, and several others in order to assess its nature as well as characteristics and influences.
3. Objects, scope, and tasks
3.1. Research subjects
The process of mobilization and development of the relations between the Republic of Singapore and the People’s Republic of China from 1990 to 2010.
3.2. Scope of research
About the time period, the thesis research focuses on the relations between the Republic of Singapore and the People's Republic of China from 1990 to 2010. The reason we choose 1990 (i.e. 10/03/1990) as the beginning year for this research because this is the year they announced the establishment of official diplomatic relations. However, to get a comprehensive overview, we also addressed the Singapore - China relations before 1990. The year 2010 was selected as the final milestone because it marks the 20th anniversary of the two nations’ official diplomatic relations, celebrated with the visit of Xi Jinping, Vice President and Vice Chairman of China's Central Military Commission to Singapore from 14 to 16/11/2010.
About the thesis title: the title "Singapore - China Relations from 1990 to 2010" indicates the relations between the Republic of Singapore and the People's Republic of China. The thesis research focuses on Singapore’s relations with mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macao) in the framework of bilateral relations. Multilateral relations are not within the scope of the study.
About the content: The thesis research focuses on the study of several basic issues:
Factors affecting relations between Singapore - China from 1990 to 2010
Bilateral relations between Singapore and China in the fields of politics - diplomacy, security - defense, commerce, investment, and several others (including culture, education, tourism, labor export, science - technology). Other content is not within the scope of this research.
The relationship between the two countries is one with mutual interactions. However, with the desire to elucidate the characteristics of Singapore's relations with China, we devoted more resource to the subject Singapore.
3.3. Tasks involved
Clarify the role, position and severity of the factors affecting the dynamics and development of the Singapore - China relations from 1990 to 2010.
Clarify the development process and nature of the relations between Singapore and China from 1990 to 2010 through an in-depth analysis of specific aspects of cooperation.
Comments on achievements and limitations, specify the specific characteristics, and assess the impact of the Singapore - China relations on several subjects.
Sources used in the thesis include:
To implement the project, we exploit multiple documents and diplomatic documents regarding the two nations’ bilateral relations, including cooperation agreements, joint statements, the press releases of mutual visits between their leaders. We also access and exploit synthesis reports, statistical and storage sources of both Singaporean and Chinese governments. These are established and reliable sources as well as precise statistics. They are the true basis for our research approach to this topic.
In the deployment process of this thesis, we approached the monographic works of national and international scholars, with their content directly mentioning relations between Singapore and China. Besides, we also utilize a number of articles published in scientific conference proceedings, as well as specialized journals, dissertations, theses, and several local and international reputable websites with related content.
5. Approach and methodology
This is a research project under the category of history of international relations, hence, a systematic structural approach allowed us to build an analytical framework. Under a specific scope, we applied multiple theories regarding international relations to clarify the dynamics of the relations between Singapore and China in the period of 20 years from 1990 to 2010.
Historical and logical methods were mainly used in the research process. We also coordinated the advantages of several interdisciplinary approaches such as synthesis, statistics, analyzation, reference, and comparison to solve posed problems.
6. Contributions of the thesis
The thesis presents a relatively complete research situation related to "Singapore - China relations from 1990 to 2010" under respective geographical partitions.
Clarification of the basic factors affecting the bilateral relations between Singapore and China.
The thesis is the first project in Vietnam to systematically and thoroughly study the Singapore - China relations from 1990 to 2010 in the fields of politics, diplomacy, security, military, economy, society, and culture during the first two decades after the Cold War.
By studying of the state of the aforementioned bilateral relations, the thesis evaluated the achievements, characteristics and impact of this relations on several aspects.
The thesis also contributes to the data and scientific argument system for the purpose of researching and teaching the history of the Singapore - China relations, as well as the international relations in Eastern and South East Asia in general during the first two decades after the Cold War.
7. Layout of the thesis
In addition to the introduction, conclusion, and references, the contents of the thesis are presented in four chapters:
Chapter 1. Overview of the research situation
Chapter 2. Factors affecting the Singapore - China relations from 1990 to 2010
Chapter 3. Singapore - China relations in multiple fields from 1990 to 2010
Chapter 4. Comments on Singapore - China relations from 1990 to 2010
OVERVIEW OF THE RESEARCH SITUATION
Research situation in Vietnam
Until recently, in Vietnam, researches about the relations between Singapore and China were limited to the following works: “Economic Relations between Singapore and China since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations (1990 - 2000)”by Tran Do (Journal of Southeast Asian Studies No. 5/2001); "Singapore, characteristics and solutions" by Duong Van Quang (National Political Publishing House, 2007). Outstanding results of these works indicate an experience exchange process regarding economic development and management, as well as mentioned the most critical issues in the economic relations between the two countries and their appropriate adjustments in recent years. About the time of research, these works’ scopes mostly end in 2005. Overall, the nature of those researches is proposing issues, with no systematization, analysis or intensive evaluation. Nevertheless, they provided us with a lot of valuable information for our study.
Research situation abroad
Research situation in Singapore
Studies of Singapore's foreign policy such as “Singapore's Foreign Policy: the search for regional order” (World Scientific Publishing House, 2007); “Between rising powers China, Singapore and India” by Asad Latif (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, 2007) only mentioned the Singapore - China relations in a generalized way. General studies of the Singapore - China relations such as “20 Years of China - Singapore: Diplomatic Relations: An Assessment” by John Wong andLye Liang Fook (Institute of East Asian Studies Publishing House, 2012) systematized multiple events and gave an overview of the relations between the two countries.
In Singapore, the economic relations between the two countries is a matter of interest with many researches on this topic such as:“Facing the challenge of rising China: Singapore's responses" by Yunhua Liu (2007); "Mind the gaps: Singapore Business in China" by Sree Kumar, Sharon Siddique, and Yuwa - Wong(2005); in particular, the book "Advancing Singapore - China Economic Relations" by Saw Swee - Hock, and John Wong as co-editor (2014), etc.. The main results of these studies includes the revelation of a rapid and continuous development of Singapore and China’s bilateral economic relations after 1990;in-depth discussions of specific economic mechanisms, frameworks and associations; the cooperation status of several important projects; the collaboration between the Government of Singapore and the Chinese locals regarding investments, opportunities and challenges in cooperation; etc.. The articles above provided us with an important basis for further research.
The relationships among security - defense, cooperation in tourism and labor export, as well as the issue of marriage between Chinese and Singaporean citizens are also mentioned in several articles. Their results, though not without restrictions, contributed to clarifying the overall nature of the Singapore- China relations.
We realized related researches in Singapore have not given appropriate attention to several matters such as the Chinese population in Singapore, the active role of the Singaporean government in the economic relations between the two countries, China's investments in Singapore, a number of limitations in institutional trade cooperation, as well as researches on cultural, scientific, and technical cooperation. We believe that these are the issues that need to be studied, analyzed, and interpreted in details.
Research situation in China
General researches on bilateral relations and foreign policies of the two countries include works such as: “The development of the relations between
Singapore and China since the Cold War” (冷 战 后 中 国与 新 加 坡 关 系 的 发 展) by Hou Song Ling (Contemporary Asia-Pacific Journal, No. 7/2000); “China built new partnerships with neighboring countries” (中 国 与 周 边 国 家 构 建 新 型 伙 伴 关 系) by editor Zhang Wen Ling (Social Sciences Publishing House, Beijing, 2006), etc.
present the development and analyze a number of factors affecting the relations between the two countries. Economic, political, and legal cooperation as well as cultural exchanges, science and technology, security and defense are also mentioned. However, the authors only illustratethe fundamentals of the relations between Singapore and China before 2005.
In China, there are also intensive researches on economic relations between the two countries such as: “Economic relations and trade between China and Southeast Asia in the context of globalization: history, current status and trends”
(全 球 化 下 中 国 与 东 南 亚 经 贸 关 系 的 历 史, 现 状 及 其 趋 势) by RanDeE (Xiamen University, 2006); “Economic relations between China and East Asian countries” (中 国 与 东 亚 的 经 济 关 系) by Yang Huang An (Wen Xian Social Science Publishing House, 2007); “Singapore's direct investments in China and new trends” (新 加 坡 在 中 国 的 直 接 投 资 及 其 新 动 向 ) by Wang Can (Journal
of Southeast Asian Studies, No. 2/2007), etc.. With rich resources, the authors not only reconstructed an overview of economic cooperation, but also analyzed and generalized the characteristics of the economic relations between the two countries as well as pointed out problems, solutions and potential cooperation. However, the view and assessment of these Chinese authors might need to be more objective.
Cooperation in education and tourism between Singapore - China has been assessed in several research articles, though the achieved results have been rather insignificant. The issue of Chinese investment in Singapore, the impact of investor relations on each country, cultural, political, security, and labor cooperation, etc. were only briefly mentioned in a number of general researches. Within the scope of the works we have access to, there is no paper specialized in these issues. This is also one of many research gaps that need attention.
Research situation in several other countries
The Singapore - Chinese relations is regarded by many scholars in their researches on Singapore and China’s foreign policies, such works include: “Riding the Chinese Dragon: Singapore's Pragmatic Relationship with China” by Japanese scholar See Seng Tan (in his book "the Rise of China: Responses from Southeast Asia and Japan" with Jun Tsunekawaas editor); “The Pragmatic ‘Little Red Dot’: Singapore's US Hedge Again China” by English author Robyn Vidra Klingler (Published in “The New Geopolitics of Southeast Asia” LSE IDEAS London 2012); The thesis "Singapore's foreign policy beyond realism" by Australian researcher Ming Hwa Ting (Centre of Asian Studies, University of Adelaide); "East Asia's Relations with a Rising China" by Lam Peng Er, Narayanan Ganesan, and Colin Durkop as editor (Konrad Adenauer Stingtung Publisher, 2010)... The above works mentioned the two countries' policies towards each other. The authors mention the issue of autonomy and independence in Singapore's foreign policy as well as China’s ambitious attempt at expanding its influence in Southeast Asia.
The study of economic relations between Singapore and China is one of several important and prominent ways of exploitation for scientists around the world. Papers like "Singapore - China Special Economic Relations: In Search of Business Opportunities" by Japanese scientist Shee Poon Kim (Journal of International Affairs, University of Ritsumeikan, No. 3/2005); and "The New Economic Partnership Between China and Singapore” by Paul J. Bolt(Asian Affairs: An American Review, No. 3/1996), etc. explored multiple specific economic policies of Singapore toward China through a pragmatist view. The articles indicate the importance of economic cooperation, as well as its opportunities, challenges and main features. Furthermore, foreign researchers are also interested in the impact the Chinese population in Singapore have on the Singapore - China relations, as shown in “Chinese Migration to Singapore: Discourses and Discontents in a Globalizing Nation - State” by Chinese author Brenda S. A. Yeoh (Asian and Pacific Migration Journal Vol 22, No. 1/2013); and “The Role of Chinese Clan Associations for Singapore's Economic Development” by Stir Lee Khuay Khiang and Patrick Low Kim Cheng, published in 2009.
Basically, studies about the Singapore - China relations in various countries around the world are plentiful in number. The researchers clarified a number of issues related to this relationship, especially foreign policies and economic relations. Security - defense, education cooperation, Chinese population in Singapore and immigration issues are also mentioned from different angles, though not profound and systematic. Aspects such as political and tourism cooperation have not been intensively studied.
General comments on research situation and issues that the thesis needs to focus on solving
From different angles, most current studies aim to identify, evaluate all or some of the field of the two countries’ relations:
Firstly, the aforementioned works mention almost all aspects, with economy attracting the most attention. Secondly, compared to foreign countries, studies in Vietnam concerning the Singapore - China relations are rather brief and modest in scope while the works of foreign scholars are more in-depth and multifaceted, especially those concerning economic relations.
Nevertheless, many problems regarding the bilateral relations has not been clarified, specifically:
Firstly, the pe