The manufacturer of the military vehicles that Hong Kong customs has impounded says the stand-off between Beijing and Singapore won’t affect its deal with the US military.
The US Marine Corps has commissioned the developer and manufacturer of the Terrex series military vehicles – Singapore Technologies (ST) Kinetics and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) – to supply 13 units this year for testing, in a contract worth US$121.5 million.
The spokeswoman for ST Kinetics, Lina Poa, said the model ordered by the marines was different from the ones seized in Hong Kong. “These are two independent issues,” Poa said. “The two vehicles are members of the Terrex family with amphibious functions produced by our company, but the US Marine Corps’ order is the advanced one, called the Terrex 2,” she told the South China Morning Post.
“The US order has some specific facilities and designs because different countries will have different requirement based on their specific terrains.”
Nine vehicles belonging to Singapore were impounded in Hong Kong last Wednesday after customs said it suspected the cargo vessel contained controlled items. They were being shipped back from Taiwan, which has a agreement with Singapore for joint military exercises – an arrangement that Beijing opposes.
ST Kinetics and SAIC refused to comment on whether the seizure would lead to any loss of technological secrets, saying they were merely the producer, and the stand-off was being managed by the Singapore Armed Forces.
Singapore’s Ministry of Defence has sent a team to Hong Kong to ensure the vehicles are kept in secure premises.
They have been shifted to the Hong Kong customs depot at the River Trade Terminal, “which is a secured access-controlled area”, according to the ministry.
The containers holding the vehicles which were opened for inspection had been resealed, it said in a statement.
Some observers say mainland experts might take time to examine the vehicles.
FactWire quoted a source as saying that mainland law enforcers had informed their Hong Kong counterparts about the military cargo before the vehicles arrived in the city.
On Tuesday, the Global Times, a nationalist tabloid affiliated with People’s Daily, said the Singaporean armoured troop carriers should be “melted down” and that the city state had failed to take seriously Beijing’s displeasure over its military ties with Taiwan. “Singapore’s image in China is now so rotten that ordinary Chinese people think the best thing to do with the ‘confiscated’ armoured vehicles … is to send them to the steel mills to be melted down,” it said.
The Chinese foreign ministry has lodging a diplomatic protest to the city state, and Singapore’s Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said they were waiting on the shipping company and Hong Kong customs to decide on an appropriate course of action. “We aim to comply with all regulations and then exercise our full rights in recovering our assets,” Ng said on Tuesday.