Singapore and China have a lot in common despite the differences in their political paths. So, it comes as no surprise that The Straits Times, in an editorial yesterday (July 27), took a pedestal view, dismissing charges that China was manipulating its currency and devaluing the Yuan against the U.S. dollar.
Its argument was that all currencies were weakening because the greenback was strengthening. This is to some extent not a tangential view as the U.S. economy has indeed been booming of late and poised for its best year of growth in a decade.
However, using that as a ruse to absolve China of any devious hand in yuan depreciation is a simplistic, patronising position. It ignores the reality that when China allows the yuan to drift lower, to deal with the simmering trade tensions, the other developing countries are not going to sit tight and keep their own currencies stable.
The editorial ignores the ripple effect of any monetary swings that will ensure there are no lopsided declines.
It does look to me that Singapore is leaning towards China, either openly or through its media.
China’s Big Investments in Cambodia
In another piece today, The Straits Times gave mileage to Cambodia saying that “China does not push us.” China has been pledging aid to Cambodia to win its support on the South China Sea dispute with ASEAN.
According to this report in the Sydney Morning Herald, Chinese money accounted for 30% of foreign investments received by Cambodia in 2017.
Singapore Media Trying to Influence Indian Policies
A month ago, an Indian journalist had even suggested in an opinion piece, Mr Modi Comes to the Shangri-La, in The Straits Times that the Prime Minister “must break from the U.S. to proclaim his faith in free and open trade, and for a closer economic partnership with the region.”
Just as some ministers in the Government there are also Modi-worshipping journalists in the media, throwing objectivity out the door and pandering to their masters.
While Singapore does not like foreigners interfering in its affairs, it does not appear to care about its media trying to influence the political and economic policies of other countries.
G Joslin Vethakumar