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[Last updated on 17 July 2023]
Respect for National Sovereignty
Singapore seeks to develop a wide network of friends based on the principles of mutual respect, sovereignty and the equality of states, regardless of size. We aim to be a friend to all and an enemy to none, but will uphold our principles and defend our national interests as an independent and sovereign nation.
Support for Rules-based Multilateral System
Singapore’s survival is best served by a rules-based multilateral system, which upholds the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence. Adherence to international law offers better protection for small states like Singapore. Singapore therefore strongly supports core principles such as the non-use of force, peaceful settlement of disputes, and non-interference in a country’s internal affairs, all of which are enshrined in the UN Charter. Similarly, we must speak out against violations of such principles when they occur.
Building Overlapping Circles of Friends
Singapore actively engages and seeks to make common cause with as many countries as possible to forge overlapping circles of friends, so that they all have a stake in the peace, stability and development of our region, and can create a stable balance of power in the Asia Pacific. This provides small countries like Singapore with more room for manoeuvre.
We start with building an open, inclusive and rules-based ASEAN-centred regional architecture.
Beyond our immediate neighbourhood, Singapore works with other partners around the world to advance our shared interests and address common challenges. For example, we co-founded the Forum of Small States (FOSS), which has proven to be a valuable platform for informal exchange and mutual support, capacity-building and technical cooperation among its 108 small state members.
Creating Political and Economic Space for Singapore
As a small country, Singapore is vulnerable to international developments and trends. For us to maintain our place in the world, we must continue to be successful as a country and economy. We also need to make ourselves relevant to the world by identifying new opportunities and areas of cooperation, sharing our experiences and providing capacity building for developing countries.
Hence, Singapore must remain nimble and adaptable to global trends and developments, and strive to be an active and constructive player internationally.
Rallying Domestic Support and Unity for Our Foreign Policy Decisions
Foreign policy begins at home. Singapore’s foreign policy is for Singaporeans to decide.
Our first and most important line of defence is a vigilant and well-informed citizenry that understands the geostrategic forces at play and our national interests.
Building Up Our Own Defence
Singapore’s existence as an independent and sovereign country is not guaranteed and cannot be taken for granted. The Ukraine-Russia war and rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait have shown that military conflicts may still arise. We must never lose the ability to defend ourselves. We cannot and should not outsource our national security and be dependent on others for our protection.
It is therefore crucial that Singapore maintains a strong and credible armed force to serve as a vital bulwark in our external relations and foreign policy.