Foreign relations of Singapore

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Singapore maintains diplomatic relations with 189 countries[1] although it does not maintain a high commission or embassy in many of those countries. It is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth, ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement.

Due to obvious geographical reasons, relations with Malaysia and Indonesia are most important. Historical baggage, including the traumatic separation from Malaysia, and Konfrontasi with Indonesia, have caused a siege mentality of sorts.[2][3] Singapore enjoys good relations with the United Kingdom which shares ties in the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) along with Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. Good relations are also maintained with the United States.

Singapore supports the concept of Southeast Asian regionalism and plays an active role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Singapore is a founding member. Singapore is also a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum which has its secretariat in Singapore.

As part of its role in the United Nations, Singapore held a rotational seat on the UN Security Council from 2001 to 2002. It participated in UN peacekeeping/observer missions in Kuwait, Angola, Kenya, Cambodia and Timor Leste.

Singapore and China have maintained long-standing and greatly prioritized close relationship, partly due to the latter's growing influence and essentiality in the Asia-Pacific region, specifying that "its common interest with China is far greater than any differences". Furthermore, Singapore has positioned itself as a strong supporter for China's constructive engagement and peaceful development in the region. It has engaged cooperation with other ASEAN members and China to strengthen regional security and fight terrorism, while participating in the organisation's first maritime exercise with the latter.[4][5][6][7]

Timeline of Singapore foreign relations[edit]

Foreign policy[edit]

Singapore's leaders are realists; they perceive a Hobbesian world where might makes right.[8] The resultant siege mentality is due to Singapore's geographical weaknesses, mistrust of Malaysia and Indonesia due to historical baggage, and from how it stands out as a "little red dot in a sea of green", as then-President Habibie of Indonesia put it.[9]

Singapore's first foreign minister was S. Rajaratnam, and the country's foreign policy still bears his imprimatur. Rajaratnam originally framed Singapore's foreign policy, taking into account "the jungle of international politics", and was wary of foreign policy "on the basis of permanent enemies."[8] In 1966, S. Rajaratnam saw Singapore's challenge as ensuring its sustained survival, peace, and prosperity in a region suffering from mutual jealousies, internal violence, economic disintegration and great power conflicts.[8]

In accordance with this worldview, Singapore's foreign policy is aimed at maintaining friendly relations with all countries, especially Malaysia, Indonesia, and ASEAN, and ensuring that its actions do not exacerbate its neighbors' insecurities.[8] In 1972, Rajaratnam envisioned the world being Singapore's hinterland – integration into the world economy would ameliorate Singapore's inherent lack of natural resources.

Thus, Rajaratnam believed that maintaining a balance of power, rather than becoming a de facto vassal of some larger power, would provide Singapore with freedom to pursue an independent foreign policy. The interest in the Great Powers in Singapore would also deter the interference of regional powers.[8]

Trade agreements[edit]

Economy Agreement Abbreviation Concluded Signed Effective Legal text
New Zealand Agreement between New Zealand and Singapore on a Closer Economic Partnership ANZSCEP 18 August 2000 14 November 2000 1 January 2001 [2]
European Free Trade Association Agreement between the EFTA States and Singapore EFTA-Singapore FTA 11 April 2002 26 June 2002 1 January 2003 [3]
Japan Agreement between Japan and the Republic of Singapore for a New-Age Economic Partnership JSEPA October 2001 13 January 2002 [4]
United States United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement USSFTA 19 November 2002 6 May 2003 1 January 2004 [5]
Jordan Singapore Jordan Free Trade Agreement SJFTA 29 April 2004 16 May 2004   [6]
Brunei Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement Trans-Pacific SEP   August 2005 1 January 2006 [7]
Chile 18 July 2005
New Zealand 18 July 2005
India India - Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement India-Singapore CECA November 2004 29 June 2005 1 August 2005 [8]
Korea Korea-Singapore Free Trade Agreement KSFTA 28 November 2004 4 August 2005 End 2005 [9]
Peru Peru-Singapore Free Trade Agreement PesFTA September 2007 29 May 2008 Early 2009

International organizations[edit]


The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is based in Singapore, of which Singapore is a founding member of.[10] Singapore has long recognised the importance of APEC as an essential platform for promoting economic linkages and its benefits towards strengthening regional peace and security between member economies. Singapore has endorsed APEC's efforts at regional economic integration as well as its non trade agendas of human resource development, emergency preparedness and health.[11] Singapore has since hosted the APEC forum in 2009.[12]


The International Criminal Police Organization INTERPOL has opened its Global Complex for Innovation, or IGCI, in Singapore in 2015. As of 2016, the IGCI houses a global Command and Coordination Centre, the Organization's Capacity Building and Training Directorate, an Innovation Centre annex Cyber Research Lab, and the Cybercrime Directorate, which also incorporates the building's iconic Cyber Fusion Centre. The building is also used for large-scale projects and operations with a global impact, law enforcement trainings and cross-sector conferences with a nexus in the ASEAN region.


Singapore, although not a G20 member, has been invited to participate in G20 summits and its related processes in 2010, 2011 and from 2013 to 2017 as a representative of the Global Governance Group.[13] In February 2017, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan attended the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bonn.[14]

Bilateral relations[edit]


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Comoros 8 April 2013

Both countries established diplomatic relations on April 8, 2013.[15]

 Egypt 28 November 1966
  • Singapore maintains an embassy in Cairo.
  • Egypt has an embassy in Singapore. There are also hundreds of Singaporean students studying in Egyptian Islamic seminaries.[16]
 Malawi 24 August 1998

Both countries established diplomatic relations on August 24, 1998.[15]

 Sierra Leone 9 April 2013 2013-04-09

Both countries established diplomatic relations on April 9, 2013[15].

 South Africa 11 October 1993
  • Singapore maintains a High Commission in Pretoria.
  • South Africa has a High Commission in Singapore.
 Togo 15 June 2012

Both countries established diplomatic relations on June 15, 2012[15].


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Barbados 19 December 1996

Both countries established diplomatic relations on December 19, 1996.[15][17]

 Belize 23 August 1995

Both countries established diplomatic relations on August 23, 1995.[15][18]

  • Brazil has an embassy in Singapore.
  • Singapore has an embassy in Brasília.
 Canada See Canada–Singapore relations
  • Canada has a High Commission in Singapore.
  • Singapore is accredited to Canada from its non-resident High Commissioner based in Singapore and by an honorary consulate in Vancouver.

These ties are enhanced by the many Canadians who reside in Singapore, and the 83,000 Canadians that visit the city-state every year.[19]

 Dominica 6 June 2012

Both countries established diplomatic relations on June 6, 2012.[15]

 Grenada 15 December 2000

Both countries established diplomatic relations on December 15, 2000.[15]

 Guyana 19 September 2002

Both countries established diplomatic relations on September 19, 2002.[15][20]

 Mexico 22 December 1975 See Mexico–Singapore relations
  • Mexico has an embassy in Singapore.[21]
  • Singapore has a non-resident ambassador based in Singapore accredited to Mexico and has an honorary consulate-general in Mexico City.[22]
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 19 February 1999

Both countries established diplomatic relations on February 19, 1999.[23]

 United States See Singapore–United States relations

Singapore and the United States share a long-standing and strong relationship, particularly in defence, the economy, health and education. The government of Singapore believes that regional security, and by extension, Singapore's security will be affected if the United States loses its resolve in Iraq.[24]

Defence Relations[edit]

Singapore and the US have strong defence relations; Singapore buys a large number of weapon systems from the US, and has close ties such as the F-16 detachment stationed at Luke Air Force Base. In return, the United States Navy is allowed to use Singaporean naval facilities, including the newly constructed Changi Naval Base designed with USN aircraft carriers in mind.[25][26] Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 1990, the United States military is permitted to use Paya Lebar Airbase and Sembawang wharves; a US naval logistic unit was established in Singapore in 1992.[25] Singapore routinely hosts American ships and American fighter aircraft. More than 100 American Navy warships call at Singapore annually, and there is a modest presence of less than 200 US military personnel based permanently in Singapore. Several naval bases in Singapore were built to US specifications, so as to allow American ships, especially carriers, to dock. In 2011, the US Navy announced plans to station several of its new Littoral combat ships in Singapore permanently.[27][28]

Singapore also signed 'The Strategic Framework Agreement for a Closer Cooperation Partnership in Defence and Security' with the United States in 2005. The agreement gives a formal structure to addressing existing and future areas of bilateral security and defence cooperation.[29] The Singapore government believes that regional security, and by extension Singapore's security, will be affected if the United States loses its resolve in Iraq.[24] Singapore faces the threat of terrorism itself, as evidenced by the Singapore embassies attack plot. Singapore has pushed regional counter-terrorism initiatives, with a strong resolve to deal with terrorists inside its borders. To this end it has given support to the US-led coalition to fight terrorism, with bilateral cooperation in counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation initiatives, and joint military exercises. Relations with the United States have expanded in other areas, and the two countries take part in joint policy dialogues.[30]

The Regional Emerging Diseases Intervention Centre (REDI), opened on 24 May 2004, is a joint US-Singapore collaboration to promote cooperation in tackling emerging infectious diseases. The centre facilitates the exchange of information and expertise on surveillance; prevention and control of, and research on, communicable and non-communicable diseases; and on bioterrorism concerns.

In July 2005, during his official visit to the United States, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President George W. Bush signed a Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) to strengthen defence and security cooperation. The Prime Minister again visited in the United States in May 2007.[24]


In 2003, Singapore and the United States signed the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USSFTA), which came into force in January 2004. This is the first free trade agreement into which U.S. entered with an East Asian country.


In 1994, relations with U.S. were hampered for a brief period by the caning incident of American teenager Michael P. Fay who was convicted in Singapore for vandalism.

In September 2005, Singapore responded to the relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in the United States. Four Singaporean CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 45 RSAF personnel from a training detachment based in Grand Prairie, Texas, were sent to help in relief operations. They are operating out of Fort Polk in cooperation with the Texas Army National Guard.[31][32]


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Armenia 01 July 1992 See Armenia–Singapore relations

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 1 July 1992.

 Bangladesh See Bangladesh–Singapore relations
  • Bangladesh has an embassy in Singapore.
  • Singapore has a consulate in Dhaka.
 Brunei See Brunei–Singapore relations

Brunei and Singapore have a currency agreement that the currencies of both countries can be used in either of the two countries. The Brunei dollar and the Singapore dollar are maintained at parity.

In August 2005, Brunei's Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, Prince Mohamed Bolkiah arrived in Singapore for a three-day visit during which the two countries signed an agreement to eliminate double taxation, paving the way for further bilateral trade and investment.[33]

The Royal Brunei Navy and the Republic of Singapore Navy conduct an annual Exercise Pelican signifying strong ties between the two navies.

 Cambodia See Cambodia–Singapore relations
  • Cambodia has an embassy in Singapore.
  • Singapore has an embassy in Phnom Penh.
 China See China–Singapore relations

Sino-Singaporean ties began much earlier than the founding of the People's Republic of China in October 1949. Migrant Chinese labourers escaping poverty and war came to what was known as Nanyang to the Chinese to Singapore which was part of British Malaya. Many ethnic Chinese Singaporeans derived their ancestral roots in southern China from Fujian, Guangdong and Hainan provinces.[34]

Diplomatic ties between the two countries officially began on 3 October 1990. Singapore was the last country in South East Asia to formally recognise People's Republic of China out of respect to Indonesia, sensitivities in the region and fears from neighbouring countries of communism in those times.[35] Singapore still maintains cooperation with ROC in terms of military training and facilities from an agreement in 1975.[36] This is due to a lack of usable space in built-up Singapore.[36] Hence China has offered Singapore to relocate some of its training facilities from Taiwan to Hainan province.[36][37]

Bilateral ties took a dive when Singapore's deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong travelled to Taiwan for a private visit in 2004.[38] The People's Republic of China was offended by the trip as it regards Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting reunification, and doesn't like it when countries have official relations with Taiwan.[38] Later in 2004, Chinese government put bilateral relations on hold.[39]

On 19 September 2005, Vice Premier Wu Yi of the People's Republic of China arrived in Singapore for a three-day visit. She led a delegation of ministers and senior officials at the 2nd Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation between the PRC and Singapore.[40][41]

On 14 November 2010, Vice President Xi Jinping visited Singapore on a three-day visit to further develop bilateral ties. His visit also commemorated with the 20th year anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.[42]

Singapore is China's 9th largest trading partner.[43] While China is Singapore's 3rd largest trading partner which consisted of 10.1 percent of Singapore's total external trade from the previous year.[44]

Other examples of close ties between Singapore and China include Singapore helping China to build up its industries such as the Suzhou Industrial Park. Singaporeans have also donated generously in the aftermath of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

Since 17 April 2011 Chinese and Singaporean diplomatic, official and official ordinary passport holders able to enjoy 30-day transit visa-free service for entering each other's country.[45]

 East Timor 20 May 2002

Both countries established diplomatic relations on May 20, 2002[15][18].

 India See India-Singapore relations
Singapore Navy frigate RSS Formidable (68) steams alongside the Indian Navy frigate INS Brahmaputra (F 31) in the Bay of Bengal. Singapore is one of India's strongest allies in South East Asia.

India and Singapore share long-standing cultural with more than 300,000 people of Indian origin living in Singapore.

Singapore was one of the first to respond to India's "Look East" Policy of expanding its economic, cultural and strategic ties in Southeast Asia to strengthen its standing as a regional power.[46] Singapore, and especially, the Singaporean Foreign Minister, George Yeo, have taken an interest in establishing the Nalanda University.

Strategic Relations[edit]

Following its independence in 1965, Singapore was concerned with PRC-backed threats as well as domination from Malaysia and Indonesia and sought a close strategic relationship with India, which it saw as a counterbalance to PRC influence and a partner in achieving regional security.[46] Singapore had always been an important strategic trading post, giving India trade access to Maritime Southeast Asia and the Far East. Although the rival positions of both nations over the Vietnam War and the Cold War caused consternation between India and Singapore, their relationship expanded significantly in the 1990s;[46] Singapore was one of the first to respond to India's "Look East" Policy of expanding its economic, cultural and strategic ties in Southeast Asia to strengthen its standing as a regional power.[46]

Economic and other ties[edit]

Singapore is the 8th largest source of investment in India and the largest amongst ASEAN member nations.[46][47] It is also India's 9th biggest trading partner as of 2005–06.[46] Its cumulative investment in India totals US$3 billion as of 2006 and is expected to rise to US 5 billion by 2010 and US 10 billion by 2015.[46][48][49] India's economic liberalisation and its "Look East" policy have led to a major expansion in bilateral trade, which grew from USD 2.2 billion in 2001 to US 9–10 billion in 2006 – a 400% growth in span of five years – and to USD 50 billion by 2010.[46][48][49] Singapore accounts for 38% of India's trade with ASEAN member nations and 3.4% of its total foreign trade.[46] India's main exports to Singapore in 2005 included petroleum, gemstones, jewellery, machinery and its imports from Singapore included electronic goods, organic chemicals and metals. More than half of Singapore's exports to India are basically "re-exports" – items that had been imported from India.[46][47]

 Indonesia See Indonesia–Singapore relations

In August 2005, Singapore and Indonesia signed a Memorandum of Understanding to expand aviation rights between the two countries.[50]

On 3 October 2005, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Bali, just two days after the Bali bombings. They agreed to strengthen the fight against terrorism and also discussed cooperation in the fields of economy, trade and investment.[citation needed]

Relations with Indonesia are generally good, though current outstanding issues include the bans on the export of sand, and granite;[51] both of which Singapore's construction industry is reliant on.

 Iraq 27 December 1977
  • Singapore does not have any diplomatic missions in Iraq.
  • Iraq is accredited to Singapore via its embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.
 Israel 11 May 1969 See Israel–Singapore relations

Singapore and Israel enjoy very close bilateral relations. In 1965, Israel extended aid to newly independent Singapore by sending a mission to help build Singapore's economic and defense policy. Israel's representation in Singapore was first formalized in 1968, and relations have since expanded, building strong economic ties and signing bilateral agreements, particularly in areas such as business, technology, healthcare, and defense.[52] Singapore and Israel also hold regular cultural exchanges, through the participation of Israeli arts and artists in Singapore's events, such as the Israeli Film Festival.[52] Despite the close relations, Israel's airline El Al does not fly to Singapore as such a route would have to pass through the airspace of Indonesia and Malaysia, and neither of the countries maintain relations with Israel.

  • Singapore maintains an honorary consulate in Tel Aviv.
  • Israel has an embassy in Singapore.
 Japan See Japan–Singapore relations.
  • Japan has an embassy in Singapore.
  • Singapore has an embassy in Tokyo.
  • Laos has an embassy in Singapore.
  • Singapore has an embassy in Vientiane.
 Malaysia See Malaysia–Singapore relations

Singapore was formerly part of Malaysia but separated in 1965 due to political differences and racial tension. There remains a high degree of economic and social inter-dependence between the two countries. For example, Singapore imports the vast majority of fresh meat and vegetables from Malaysia, and Malaysia supplies a large fraction of Singapore's fresh water according to two treaties. Many Malaysians work in Singapore, some living in Singapore as permanent residents, while many also commute from Johor Bahru daily. Bilateral relations are complex and have experienced many highs and lows over the last 40 years.


Singapore and Malaysia are both members of the Five Power Defence Arrangements. The two countries also routinely conduct joint military exercises to enhance bilateral ties and to heighten the professional interaction between the Singapore Armed Forces and Malaysian Armed Forces. In August 2005, the two countries concluded the 12th exercise of the series, Ex Semangat Bersatu 05 in Pahang.[53]


Singapore has several long-standing disputes with Malaysia over a number of issues.

Malaysia and Singapore have clashed over the delivery of fresh water to Singapore,[54] with Malaysia threatening to stop providing water and Singapore threatening to stop relying on Malaysia for water.[55]

Others include:

Improved relationship[edit]

Relations between the two countries has improved in recent years, especially since the transition of leadership in both governments. These relations improved by leaps and bounds when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over the post as Prime Minister. Mahathir bin Mohamad, the ex-Prime Minister, still raises claims regarding Singapore's intentions in a number of matters, such as land reclamation. On 26 April 2005, the two countries signed a settlement agreement concerning Singapore's land reclamation in and around the Straits of Johor.

Both countries exchanged many high-level visits in 2004 and 2005, including the visit to Singapore on 12 January 2004 by Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who had just taken over from Mahathir bin Mohamad in October 2003.

 Mongolia 15 October 1987 See Mongolia–Singapore relations
  • Singapore has a consulate in Ulan Bator.
  • Mongolia has an embassy in Singapore.
  • Myanmar has an embassy in Singapore.
  • Singapore has an embassy in Yangon.
 North Korea 8 November 1975 See North Korea–Singapore relations

Singapore and North Korea established diplomatic relations on 8 November 1975.[56] The North Korea maintains an embassy in Singapore while the latter has accredited a non-resident ambassador to Pyongyang from Beijing since 1990. The current North Korea ambassador to Singapore is Jong Song Il.[56]

 Pakistan See Pakistan–Singapore relations
  • Pakistan has a high commission in Singapore.
  • Singapore has a consulate in Islamabad.
 Philippines See Philippines–Singapore relations
  • Philippines has an embassy in Singapore.
  • Singapore has an embassy in Manila.
 Saudi Arabia See Saudi Arabia–Singapore relations
  • Saudi Arabia has an embassy in Singapore.
  • Singapore has an embassy in Riyadh and a consulate-general in Jeddah.
 South Korea 8 August 1975 See Singapore–South Korea relations

The establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Singapore and the Republic of Korea began on August 8, 1975.

 Taiwan See Singapore–Taiwan relations

During British rule in Singapore and then under British Malaya before independence, Singapore and the Republic of China had diplomatic relations.[35] When Singapore became independent in 1965 from Malaysia, it continued to recognise the Republic of China on Taiwan.[35]

When Singapore established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1990, Singapore wanted to maintain its good relationship with Taiwan and it strongly bargained with the PRC to maintain close relations with Taiwan. Both countries have had unofficial relations since the independence of Singapore and establishment of Republic of China rule over the island of Taiwan. Taiwan has a representative office in Singapore. Conversely, Singapore is represented by what is known as the Singapore Trade Office in Taipei in Taiwan. The two nations have enjoyed an extensive relationship in many facets such as trade and defence, most noticeably being Singapore’s establishment of military bases in Taiwan for its troops to conduct overseas training.

Like Thailand where Singapore today adopted modern military training bases with, Taiwan was also under Japanese Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere influence leading up to post-World War II. Strategically, the Japanese occupation of Singapore and the Japanese occupation of Malaya was made possible and expedited because of Thai and Taiwanese varied involvements and / or assistances towards the Japanese war efforts. Since the independence of Singapore and the establishment of Kuomintang rule over the island of Taiwan, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) adopted military training bases in Taiwan from 1975 that included combined arms exercises involving infantry, artillery, and armored units. The then Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew also appointed Taiwanese military personnel in training Republic of Singapore Air Force[citation needed]. These exercises, engaging as many as 10,000 troops at one time, provided officers a chance to simulate wartime conditions more closely and gain experience in the command and control of operations involving several battalions.[60]

With waning Taiwan diplomatic significance, the People's Republic of China has since succeeded the governance of mainland China in the aftermath of the Chinese Civil War.[61] Attempts by the 2016 newly elected Taiwanese government in turning to South East Asian nations such as Singapore is subtly deemed as separatist.[62]


In 2010, bilateral trade talks commenced to explore the feasibility of an economic cooperation agreement between the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (Republic of China) and Singapore, both of whom are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO).[63] On 12 September 2012, former Taiwanese Vice-President Lien Chan announced that talks between Taiwan and Singapore on a proposed economic partnership agreement are expected to be finalised by the end of the year.[64] The successful implementation of this economic partnership would mean that both countries will enjoy free trade between one another.


Business and trade[edit]

The Taipei Representative Office in Singapore has been actively promoting trade as well as encouraging mutual start-ups by businesses and enterprises between the two countries. Moreover, in 2009, the Singapore Trade Office in Taipei was honoured for its role in developing close economic ties between the two sides. Taiwan is Singapore’s ninth largest trading partner, with bilateral trade topping S$35 billion in 2008.[65]


When Singapore started building up its military soon after independence, the Republic of China (Taiwan) was one of the few places to offer assistance by providing training areas to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to conduct military exercises. This was crucial to Singapore as it was a small country which suffered from land-scarcity making it difficult to conduct large-scale military exercises for its soldiers. Since 1975, the Singapore Army has used bases in Taiwan for military training that included combined arms exercises involving infantry, artillery, and armoured units. These exercises, engaging as many as 10,000 troops at one time, provided officers a chance to simulate wartime conditions more closely and gain experience in the command and control of operations involving several battalions.[66] Although China has officially offered Singapore to shift its training facilities to Hainan Island, this has been refused in order to maintain its policy of neutrality between the ‘One China’ policy and its relations with Taiwan.[67] It also signals that Taiwan-Singapore ties are strong


Just before the current Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong took office from the then incumbent Goh Chok Tong, he made a visit to Taiwan to familiarise himself with the latest developments there. The Taiwanese media, however, made use of this opportunity to publicise his visit with the agenda of highlighting it to Mainland China.[68] Controversy struck swiftly, with PRC Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhang Qiyue accusing Lee of "hurting the feelings of 1.3 billion Chinese". Meetings and business transactions between Singapore and the PRC were reportedly frozen overnight. As a result, in his maiden National Day Rally speech, Lee criticised the Taiwanese leadership and populace of overestimating the support they would receive if they were to declare Taiwan independence.[69] Later that year in September, Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo cautioned the United Nations General Assembly about the dangers of letting the cross-strait relationship deteriorate. This led to Taiwan's Foreign Minister, Mark Chen, to famously describe Singapore as a ‘nation no bigger than a piece of snot’ (鼻屎大ㄟ國家) in Chinese.[70] Supporters of Taiwanese independence also burnt the flag of Singapore as a sign of protest against George Yeo’s comments at the United Nations.[71] This did not go down well with the majority of the Singaporean public. These incidents marked an all-time low in foreign relations between the two sides although Chen did make a formal apology later regarding his comments.

Issue of Taiwanese independence[edit]

On 3 October 1990, the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Singapore established formal diplomatic relations. Relationship between the two sides has since improved tremendously. As such, Taiwan's trade mission in Singapore was subsequently renamed from "Trade Mission of the Republic of China" to "Taipei Representative Office in Singapore".[72] Even so, Singapore has always wanted to maintain its warm ties with Taiwan in order to show its neutrality on cross-strait relations. Although it officially supports the ‘One China’ policy, it must also be noted that Singapore is the only foreign country to currently own military bases in Taiwan and it continues to send its troops there for an annual military exercise known as Exercise Starlight (星光計畫).[73]

The PRC has continuously advocated the possibility of moving some or all of these military facilities to Hainan, although this may not be taken up due to sensitivities in diplomatic relations between Singapore and her largely Islamic neighbours.[74][75]

 Thailand See Singapore–Thailand relations
  • Singapore has an embassy in Bangkok.
  • Thailand has an embassy in Singapore.
 Vietnam See Singapore–Vietnam relations
  • Singapore has an embassy in Hanoi and a consulate-general in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Vietnam has an embassy in Singapore.


Country Formal relations began Notes
 Belgium 10 October 1966
  • Belgium has an embassy in Singapore.
  • Singapore maintains an embassy in Brussels.
 Denmark 28 September 1965
  • Denmark has an embassy in United Square in Singapore.[76]
  • Singapore has an honorary consulate in Copenhagen.[77]
 France 18 September 1965
  • Singapore maintains an embassy in Paris.
  • France has an embassy in Singapore.

Singapore and France maintain relatively strong relations.[78] This was strengthened in March 1999 on the agreement of a "Joint declaration for a strengthened partnership" during Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's visit to France.

 Germany 06 November 1965 See Germany–Singapore relations
 Greece 21 October 1966
  • Singapore has an honorary consulate in Athens.
  • Greece has an honorary consulate in Singapore located at the Sime Darby Centre. The embassy of Greece in Jakarta, Indonesia is accredited to Singapore.
 Holy See 23 June 1981

The Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See is resident in Singapore while the embassy of Singapore in Brussels is accredited to the Holy See. Pope John Paul II made an official visit to Singapore back in 1986.

 Hungary 24 August 1970

In July 2005, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Hungary, Ferenc Gyurcsány made an official visit to Singapore.

  • Hungary has an embassy on the 29th floor of the Raffles City Tower in Singapore.
  • Singapore maintains an honorary consulate in Budapest.
 Iceland 4 May 1999

Both countries established diplomatic relations on May 4, 1999[79].


Although Italy and Singapore maintain diplomatic relations, Singapore does not have an embassy in Rome. During a visit to Rome in 2007, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew stated that opening an embassy could be a challenge because trade and people flow between Italy and Singapore has not reached a significant level yet.[80]

  • Italy has an embassy in the United Square in Singapore.
  • Singapore has an honorary consulate in Rome.
 Kosovo 01 December 2016 See Kosovo–Singapore relations
  • Singapore recognised the Republic of Kosovo as an independent state on 1 December 2016.[81]
  • Both countries established diplomatic relations on 1 December 2016.[82]
 Netherlands 1965

Upon Singapore's declaration of independence in August 1965, the Netherlands recognized Singapore as a sovereign state and established diplomatic relations with it, becoming one of the first European countries to do so. The Netherlands maintains its embassy in Singapore, while Singapore is represented in the Netherlands through its embassy in Brussels, Belgium.

 Romania 30 May 1967

Romania has an embassy at the Orchard Tower in Singapore.[83] Singapore does not have any representation in Romania. In February 2002 the Romanian president Ion Iliescu made an official visit to Singapore. In March 2002 Romania and Singapore signed a double-taxation agreement to facilitate the cross-flow of trade, investment, financial activities and technical know-how between Singapore and Romania.[84] In November 2008, Singapore signed an open skies agreement (OSA) with Romania to allow greater flexibility on air services.[85]

In 2000, trade between Romania and Singapore was US$15.5 million, roughly balanced.[86] The Romanian market, with a relatively cheap and skilled labor force and advantageous tax laws, has been attractive to several Singapore companies who have established joint ventures in Romania. Forte, created in 1990 as a Romanian-Singapore joint venture for computer assembly, is an example.[87] (However, in 2006 Forte was acquired by Siemens.[88])

 Russia 01 June 1968 See Russia–Singapore relations
  • Singapore maintains an embassy in Moscow.
  • Russia has an embassy in Singapore.

Singapore and the Soviet Union (now Russia) entered into full diplomatic relations on 1 June 1968. The two nations engaged in trade and economic cooperation. After the start of Vladimir Putin's term, Singapore and Russia strengthened ties, participating in a number of regional meetings such as the ASEAN-Russia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum. Both Singapore and Russia are members of APEC.

 Serbia 22 August 1967
  • The Serbian Ambassador in Jakarta, Indonesia is accredited to Singapore.
  • Singapore is accredited to Serbia through its embassy in Paris, France.
 Ukraine 31 March 1992
  • Singapore recognized Ukraine's independence on 2 January 1992.
  • Singapore is represented in Ukraine through its embassy in Moscow, Russia.[89]
  • Since December 2002, Ukraine has an embassy (on the 16th floor of the Singapore Land Tower) and an honorary consulate in Singapore.[90]
  • In 2007, the two countries commenced negotiations for a free trade agreement. In 2006, Ukraine was Singapore's 55th largest trading partner last year, with total trade amounting to S$774 million[91]
 United Kingdom 12 November 1965 See Singapore–United Kingdom relations

Singapore engages with the United Kingdom on a wide range of international issues, reflecting their close historical ties. As members of the Commonwealth, diplomatic relations are at a governmental level, rather than between Heads of State. In defence, Singapore and the United Kingdom share ties in the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) along with Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.

  • Singapore has a high commission in London.
  • United Kingdom has a high commission Singapore


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Australia See Australia–Singapore relations
  • Singapore maintains a High Commission in Canberra.[92]
  • In July 2003, Singapore and Australia signed a Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement bringing closer economic ties.
  • On 23 August 2005, Singapore and Australia signed a memorandum of agreement to allow Singapore Armed Forces to train on the Shoalwater Bay Training Area till 2009.
  • Singapore and Australia hold a biennial Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Conference (SAJMC) when ministers from both countries meet to discuss trade, defence and security. Both countries also collaborate in development assistance projects under the Singapore-Australia Trilateral Cooperation Program (SATCP) since 1996.
 New Zealand 22 November 1965 See New Zealand–Singapore relations

On 1 January 2001, New Zealand and Singapore entered into a Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) to improve relations and encourage trade and investment.

  • New Zealand has a high Commission in Singapore at 1 George Street.
  • Singapore has a high commission in Wellington.
 Solomon Islands 21 April 1987

Both countries established diplomatic relations on April 21, 1987.[15]

International humanitarian effort[edit]

Participation in the War on Terrorism[edit]

Singapore is affected by ongoing international affairs relating to terrorism as demonstrated by the Singapore embassies attack plot.

During 15–17 August 2005, Singapore hosted a multi-national maritime interdiction exercise, codename Exercise Deep Sabre as part of the Proliferation Security Initiative to address the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Launched at Changi Naval Base and conducted in the South China Sea, the exercise involves some 2,000 personnel from 13 countries.[95]

Singapore hosted the Regional Special Forces Counter-Terrorism Conference from 21–25 November 2005.

On 6 May 2004, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong delivered a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C. titled "Beyond Madrid: Winning Against Terrorism", expressing Singapore's view on the controversial and often criticised (see Criticism of the War on terrorism) war on terrorism.[96]

International effort on anti-piracy[edit]

In August 2005, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore agreed to conduct joint anti-piracy patrols in the Malacca Strait to increase security in one of the world's busiest sealanes[97][98][99][100] Thailand later also joined in this effort.

Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore conduct trilateral, coordinated maritime surface patrols, known as the Malacca Strait Sea Patrols, and coordinated airborne surveillance under the 'Eyes in the Sky' arrangement. Other forms of cooperation between the littoral states include an agreement between Malaysia and Indonesia in 2007 to increase joint anti-piracy training in the Malacca Strait, the Surface Picture Surveillance System (SURPIC) launched by Singapore and Indonesia in May 2005, and the Malacca Strait Patrol Information System (MSP-IS) to share information about shipping in the Malacca Strait.[101]


In addition to embassies or High Commissions, Singapore maintains consulates or honorary consulates in Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, Chile, People's Republic of China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, South Korea,[58] Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland (Permanent Mission in Geneva), Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States of America and Vietnam.[92]

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External links[edit]