MFA calls Chinese media report a 'gross distortion' of PM's remarks

MFA calls Chinese media report a 'gross distortion' of PM's remarks

SINGAPORE - Singapore has rebutted a Chinese media report that it says "grossly distorted and misreported" Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's recent remarks about China's territorial disputes and relations with its neighbours.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) also took issue with the "sensationalist headline" used in the Global Times report on Wednesday.

"Such unprofessional reporting is unhelpful and could harm bilateral relations and affect people- to-people ties," MFA said in a statement, which was reported on major Chinese news websites. In an unusual move, the official Xinhua agency carried parts of PM Lee's comments in English in its report rather than translating them.

The Global Times report, headlined "Singapore PM: China could gain Diaoyu islands but lose its international standing", was published on the Chinese-language website of Global Times, an offshoot of the Communist Party's mouthpiece, People's Daily.

It quoted PM Lee, who spoke at the Nikkei International Conference on the Future of Asia held in Tokyo in May, as saying that China has to weigh carefully between gaining in its bilateral disputes and losing its reputation and standing in the world.

China is locked in a dispute with Japan over a group of islets in the East China Sea and separately with four ASEAN countries and Taiwan over islands and maritime borders in the South China Sea.

The MFA said the Global Times had taken Mr Lee's comments "completely out of context".

It pointed out that Mr Lee had made the remarks on the territorial disputes in the context of a broader question from a member of the audience at the conference, who asked whether regional countries should band together to form a "close enclosure" against China.

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