Hong Kong authorities said that the government will return nine Singaporean military vehicles impounded by customs officers last year, RTHK reports.
The Terrex vehicles were seized at the Kwai Chung Container Terminal in November while they were being shipped back to Singapore after being used in military exercises in Taiwan.
Singapore demanded the return of the vehicles while Beijing lodged a protest with Singapore over its military cooperation with Taiwan.
On Tuesday, Singapore’s foreign ministry said Chief Executive CY Leung told Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a letter that investigations have been completed and the armoured vehicles will be released.
In a statement, the Singaporean leader called it a “positive outcome” and thanked Leung for Hong Kong’s cooperation.
Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said in a Facebook post: “SAF [Singapore Armed Forces] Terrexes are coming home to Singapore. Looking forward to this happy reunion with all Singaporeans in the Year of the Rooster.”
Hong Kong’s Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Roy Tang, confirmed the vehicles would be returned to Singapore but warned a criminal prosecution was still possible over the affair.
“Import, export and transshipment/transit of strategic commodities in breach of licensing requirement are criminal offences punishable under Hong Kong law”, Tang said in a statement.
Ties between China and Singapore were already strained before the seizure over Singapore’s perceived support for Southeast Asian nations disputing Beijing’s extensive territorial claims in the South China Sea. (Additional reporting by AFP)
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