It was pointed out in my post titled "Is China flexing its muscles against Singapore?" on 29-11-16 that the issue of the nine Terrex armoured vehicles detained by Hong Kong Customs on 23-11-16 could evolve into a complex problem requiring an infinite time frame to resolve. Even the dispatch of a high level SAF Team to Hong Kong and the imploration of the Ministry of Defence (reported in the Straits Times today) could not appease an intractable China to relent. This shows the level of misgiving that China's President Xi Jinping has towards a so-called untrustworthy PM Lee Hsien Loong who has evidently exasperated him with his pro-American antics to the point of disillusionment. It may not be too far-fetched if President Xi insists on the personal imploration of a demagogic PM Lee Hsien Loong before any benevolent move could be made to resolve the Terrex armoured vehicles issue. It may be a test of the mental prowess of the two leaders and if PM Lee foolishly stands his ground, it may be the end of the Terrex saga.
There is another interesting angle that may have been overlooked. In order to further humiliate Singapore and PM Lee (which again is not too far-fetched) China may lithely decide to impose a storage fee and a charge for providing guards to protect the armoured vehicles of a sum of a million dollars or more before the vehicles can be released. Of course there will be no problem for Singapore to pay up but it will have to live with it for a long time.
From this episode it may not be too brazen to say that President Xi may regard PM Lee as an American poodle which may affect his hitherto exemplary relationship with PM Lee. Hopefully this unfortunate narrative may transcend any deleterious effect which may befall on the economic front between Singapore and China which is mutually beneficial but more in favour of Singapore. President Xi is too magnanimous for that but on the other hand PM Lee must make a genuine effort to divest himself of his pro-American image to show a more balanced world view which is in Singapore's interest.
American President Barack Obama has shown exceptional affinity towards PM Lee in their relationship which may have an intoxicating effect on on PM Lee in relation to his pro-American antics. Whether the maverick President-elect Donald Trump will continue this brotherly relationship after his inauguration is questionable because of his unpredictable character. For PM Lee this will be a lesson gained and, if learned, should stand him in good stead.