Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Singapore in November

President Tony Tan Keng Yam shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping, before a bilateral meeting at Nanjing's Purple Palace on Aug 16, 2014.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping, before a bilateral meeting at Nanjing's Purple Palace on Aug 16, 2014.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Singapore next month, capping a year-long series of celebrations to mark 25 years of diplomatic ties, as well as meetings to deepen bilateral cooperation.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced Mr Xi's visit as he met Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli at the annual meeting of the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) on Tuesday (Oct 13).

"We look forward to welcoming President Xi Jinping for his state visit to Singapore in November to commemorate this milestone," said Mr Teo.

Mr Xi, who last visited Singapore in 2010 as China's vice-president, will be making the trip as part of an exchange of state visits this year, with President Tony Tan Keng Yam visiting Beijing and Tianjin from end-June.

The JCBC is the highest-level bilateral mechanism to deepen political and economic ties.

High on the agenda was a proposed third government-to-government project in China's wesern region and the upgrade of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA).

Despite expectations that both sides would announce a city of choice as well as the launch of formal talks of the CSFTA upgrade, no such progress was revealed in a joint statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of National Development.

The statement said both sides agreed to work towards a CSFTA upgrade that is "substantive, mutually beneficial, and with a level of ambition befitting our special relationship". They also agreed to improve the Investment chapter as part of the upgrade.

It added that the third project should focus on one core city in China's western region and focus on four sectors of collaboration: financial, aviation, logistics, and ICT.

The spotlight yesterday fell more on an agreement to expand international use of the renminbi (RMB) or yuan through Singapore.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said existing cross-border RMB initiatives in two flagship Sino-Singapore projects - Suzhou Industrial Park and Singapore-Sino Tianjin Eco-City (TEC) - will now be expanded to the cities of Suzhou and Tianjin, allowing banks in Singapore to lend RMB to Suzhou and Tianjin companies, among others.

"The initiatives announced today are a testament to the excellent relations between MAS and our counterparts in China," said MAS managing director Ravi Menon.

Four new agreements were also inked on Tuesday, including the development of a training facility with a "Harvard Business School concept" in the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City.

Jointly launched by Nanyang Technological University (NTU),the Centre of Excellence for Software Transfer (CREST) aims to educate Chinese officials and businessmen about Singapore's public policy and economic development, as well as to help Singaporeans learn more about China.

NTU's vice-president (research) Lam Khin Yong said he envisioned CREST as a training facility where students would attend classes and live onsite to deepen their interaction, like in Harvard.

Deals were also inked in the TEC, such as a platform for firms to test green building technology in temperate climates.

Mr Zhang, who arrived on Monday, also met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Tan on Tuesday. He is set to meet DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Wednesday (Oct 14) before ending his trip.