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UPDATED: 10:38, July 14, 2004
Singapore could ruin bilateral ties: China
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China-Singapore relations will unavoidably suffer gravely from Singapore's incoming leader Lee Hsien Loong's just-concluded visit to Taiwan island, said a Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

Answering an inquiry at a news conference yesterday, Zhang Qiyue said Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Lee's visit to Taiwan has severely violated Singapore's commitment to the one-China policy and damaged the political base between China and Singapore, she said.

"Such a move will produce serious effects towards bilateral relations and co-operation, and the Singapore side should be responsible for all the damage," Zhang said.

As a result, Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the China central bank, has cancelled a trip to Singapore, where he had been scheduled to give a lecture, reports said.

"The Taiwan question relates to the core interests of China," Zhang said. "China holds a persistent, formative and clear-cut position on this issue."

In response to a follow-up question over whether China plans to recall its ambassador from Singapore, the spokesperson said the Chinese side is considering relevant measures according to developments in the situation.

Reports said Lee flew to Taipei on Saturday and left yesterday for what officials described as a private visit, during which he met with island officials, including Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian.

In response, Singapore reiterated on Monday that it adheres to the one-China policy, and does not support Taiwan's "independence," according to local press reports.

Singapore officials have stressed that Lee's visit is "a private and unofficial visit" and does not in any way change the above-mentioned policy, nor does it represent any challenge to China's sovereignty or territorial integrity, reports said.

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