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Singapore: Chinese Paper Made Up South China Sea Story

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Fiery Cross Reef, undated file image

By MarEx 2016-09-27 21:30:19

On Tuesday, Singapore accused the Chinese state-owned tabloid Global Times of making up a story on Singapore's views of maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

The Global Times published a piece on September 21 alleging that Singapore had "insisted on rendering the [Philippines' view of the South China Sea dispute] into the final document of the Seventeenth Non-Aligned Movement Summit," a meeting of developing nations held in Venezuela earlier in the month. 

The report further claimed that Singapore's efforts at NAM persisted "late into the night, upsetting many countries."

Singapore's ambassador to China Stanley Loh said that the story "attributed actions and words to Singapore which are false and unfounded." He said that Singapore had not raised either the South China Sea or the recent arbitral ruling against Chinese claims in the region. 

"The [NAM Final Document's] paragraphs on Southeast Asia, including those referring to the South China Sea, have been part of the NAM Final Document since 1992, and regularly updated based on the common position of the ASEAN countries," he added.

Loh demanded a retraction from the Global Times and the publication of his letter in full. Shortly thereafter, the newspaper published a followup story dismissing his argument and reiterating the previous claims. 

"The article was based on a serious and reliable source who attended the summit and the reporter has done solid and serious interviews," said Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin.

In the same piece, Hu accused Singapore of "favoring the Philippines and Vietnam" in their South China Sea claims and "damaging China's interests" by hosting American military forces. 

Global Times is a unit of the Chinese Communist Party's Peoples' Daily and is known for publishing controversial, headline-grabbing content. In one recent example, its coverage of Britain's vote to leave the EU (or "Brexit") featured a large graphic reading "You Exit, We Enter."

In an interview with Quartz in August, Hu said that his views reflect those of many Chinese government officials: "They can't speak willfully, but I can," he said.