Singapore armoured troop carriers
Singapore's Minister of Foreign Affairs said the interception of armoured troop carriers by Hong Kong, was not a strategic incidentREUTERS/Bobby Yip

For the second time in two days, China's state-run influential newspaper has attacked Singapore after the island's armoured vehicles were confiscated in Hong Kong. The Global Times newspaper said in an editorial on Tuesday (29 November) that Singapore-bound carried should be "melted down".

The nine troop carriers that were on their way to the city-state from Taiwan last week were seized by Hong Kong customs authorities for unknown reasons. The seizure came within days of Singapore taking sides against China in the ongoing territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

Beijing has also been wary of Singapore's military ties with Taipei. The communist country strongly believes in 'One China' rule and condemns any action by foreign governments that work against its policies.

The tabloid, published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, lambasted Singapore's "carelessness" with the armoured vehicles. It said the incident only reflected how Singapore has failed to take China seriously as President Xi Jingpin's administration has strictly been against Singapore's military cooperation 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 that 'walked right into our trap' is to send them to the steel mills to be melted down," the editorial said in its widely-read Chinese language edition.

It added that Singapore should make use of the incident to find "enlightenment" rather than provoke Beijing's anger further.

"All incidents have causes – to grasp and understand them is always wise," it said.

On Monday, the newspaper's English edition struck a similar vociferous tone on the incident and accused Singapore of "hypocrisy".

Reacting to the seizure for the first time, Singapore is reported to have downplayed the incident. Its Minister of Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan said it was "not a strategic incident".

"I wouldn't overreact to that... we expect commercial providers of services to strictly comply with the law," he was quoted as saying by the Straits Times. "It will be a footnote on how to do things strictly, carefully and by the law."

Earlier on Monday, the Chinese foreign ministry said it had lodged a protest over the cargo ship with Singapore. It demanded that the island abide by the relevant laws of Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous state seen by China as part of its territory.