EDB Chairman: S'pore remains open to both US & China despite Huawei fallout

S'pore will continue to conduct its business with US and China in an "objective" manner.

Sulaiman Daud | May 26, 2019, 06:38 AM

Singapore's 'chief salesman' Beh Swan Gin indicated the course that Singapore would take, as tensions between the U.S. and China rise amid their trade and tech war.

In an interview with Asia Nikkei Review on May 24, the Economic Development Board's (EDB) chairman said that Singapore remained open to both sides.

"We definitely want to make sure that we remain open. We remain a (place) where, whether you are American companies or Chinese companies, you can be located."

Beh is the first senior Singapore government official to publicly comment on the rising tensions between the two superpowers that affected Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant.

Huawei's investments in Singapore

Singapore has been successful in inviting investments from Huawei.

In April, Huawei announced the launch of a cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) laboratory in Singapore, as well as promising investments in Singapore and the Asia Pacific worth "hundreds of millions".

But following the Trump Administration's move to blacklist Huawei over security concerns, several companies have suspended business services with Huawei, including Google and Microsoft.

Beh pointed out that the American ban on component sales to Huawei will be "very disruptive" to Asian supply chains, particularly those companies involved in electronics.

However, this could mean more opportunities for other companies, like Nokia, to fill in the gap.

Neutral course

Of American security concerns, Beh told the Japanese weekly business journal that Singapore would remain "objective".

"I think the concerns that America has are legitimate, but let's see how we can address those concerns in a constructive way.

If indeed there are possibly security lapses, possibly so-called back doors, that could be exploited, then let's make sure those back doors are closed and addressed.

For Singapore, we want to make sure we continue to conduct our business in an objective manner."

He added that Singapore is "closely monitoring" the findings of other countries with regards to Huawei, although he did not specify which countries exactly.

Said Beh:

"Both China and the U.S. are important and we will take whatever actions that are based on specific concerns."

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Top image from Angela Lim and Huawei's Facebook page.