SINGAPORE - A Chinese media outlet has defended its report about Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's remarks on China's territorial disputes with its neighbours.
The Global Times, in a statement on Saturday, expressed "surprise and regret" at a rebuttal by the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) over its report last Wednesday, headlined "Singapore PM: China could gain Diaoyu islands but lose its international standing".
The MFA on Friday had slammed the report for its "sensationalist" headline and for "grossly distorting and misreporting" Mr Lee's remarks made at the Nikkei International Conference on the Future of Asia held in Tokyo in May.
Mr Lee was quoted as saying that China has to weigh carefully between gaining in its bilateral disputes and losing its reputation and standing in the world.
The MFA, in its rebuttal, said the Global Times had taken Mr Lee's comments "completely out of context".
The ministry added that the remarks were in response to a broader question during a dialogue on whether regional countries should band together to form a "close enclosure" against China.
Mr Lee rejected such an approach, saying it was neither constructive nor helpful.
He also told the conference that Chinese leaders themselves understood the need for China to develop in a peaceful way that is not threatening to its neighbours.
But the Global Times said in the statement posted on its website that it had clearly stated that its report was based on an earlier article by the Ta Kung Pao, a Hong Kong daily.
"We express surprise and regret that the Singapore Foreign Ministry would name and accuse a foreign media wrongly," the Global Times added.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.