Mr Hu Xijin


Global Times

Dear Editor-in-Chief Hu,

1 The Global Times (Chinese) article dated 21 September 2016 regarding the 17th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit attributed actions and words to Singapore which are false and unfounded.

2 Firstly, the proposal to update the Southeast Asia paragraphs in the NAM Final Document was not done at the last minute nor by any single ASEAN country. There was a common and united ASEAN position. It was a consensus position of all ten ASEAN members, based on agreed language from the Joint Communique of the 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting. As the current ASEAN Chair, Laos conveyed the group's common position through a formal letter to the former-NAM Chair Iran in July 2016. Subsequently, Iran circulated ASEAN's updates to all NAM Members on 29 July 2016.

3 Secondly, the NAM Chair refused ASEAN's request to abide by the established practice in NAM for regional groupings to update the paragraphs of their respective regions in the NAM Final Document, without interference from non-regional NAM countries or external parties. If this important principle is not respected, any non-regional NAM member or external element could in future impose their views on any regional issue. This is not in the interests of the NAM and its members. The paragraphs on Southeast Asia, including those referring to the South China Sea, have been part of the NAM Final Document since 1992, and regularly updated based on the common position of the ASEAN countries.

4 Thirdly, contrary to the claim fabricated by the Global Times, the Singapore delegation did not raise the South China Sea or the tribunal ruling at the NAM Summit. Singapore adopted a principled position throughout and intervened to support the common position of ASEAN and defend NAM principles and established practices. Singapore believes that it is detrimental to the unity, impartiality and future of the NAM to allow NAM principles to be undermined.

5 The following additional facts clearly refute the allegations in the article:

i. Only a very small number of NAM Members outside Southeast Asia raised objections to ASEAN's updates at the NAM Senior Officials' Meeting at Margarita Island. However, substantive discussions were regrettably blocked.

ii. As Chairman of ASEAN, Laos protested on behalf of all ten ASEAN countries to the NAM Chair on its improper decision to reject ASEAN's updates. Several other countries also objected to the breach of this well-established NAM principle.

iii. At the end of the 17th NAM Summit, Laos as Chair of ASEAN wrote to the Venezuelan Foreign Minister to put on record ASEAN's collective reservation to a paragraph in the Southeast Asia section of the NAM Final Document that was not updated. The ASEAN Chair further requested that ASEAN's proposed language be annexed to the NAM Final Document. A copy of the letter from Laos as Chair of ASEAN is attached.

6 We are disappointed that an established newspaper published this irresponsible report replete with fabrications and unfounded allegations with no regard for the facts. I request that in the interest of professionalism, objectivity and transparency, Global Times publishes this letter in full in Chinese and English, so that your readers may be accurately informed, and the close friendship between our two countries will not be inadvertently affected.