HANGZHOU - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Chinese President Xi Jinping are pleased with the "good progress" of the third government-led project based in south-western Chongqing city, particularly in the areas of financial services and aviation connectivity.
In their bilateral meeting in coastal Hangzhou city on Friday (Sept 2) evening, both leaders referred to the existing bilateral projects between the two countries as of "strategic importance" and discussed the role of the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI) as a key platform to operationalise China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative.
A statement from the Prime Minister's Office said both leaders also noted that officials have been working on the upgrading of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA), apart from implementation of the CCI, which is the third government-led project between both countries and was launched during Mr Xi's visit to Singapore last November.
Mr Lee said two rounds of discussions on the FTA upgrade have been held and a third is being planned, with the aim of concluding talks by this year. The current pact, which was inked in October 2008 and came into effect in January 2009, was the first comprehensive bilateral FTA China has signed with another Asian country.
In their 20-minute meeting at the West Lake State Guesthouse, Mr Lee also said Singapore would continue to perform its role as the Asean-China Dialogue Relations Coordinator in an objective and transparent manner.
He said the Republic would work with Asean countries and China to promote closer cooperation between both sides. Singapore began a three-year term as Asean-China dialogue relations coordinator from August last year.
The PMO statement said Mr Xi told Mr Lee that Singapore could play a useful role in China's newly established free trade zones (FTZs), which include the Chongqing municipality.
China on Wednesday announced seven new FTZs, bringing the total number to 11. The others are in Liaoning, Zhejiang, Henan, Hubei, Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces.
The first FTZ was set up in 2013 in Shanghai to testbed economic reforms such as more relaxed rules towards foreign investment. A second batch of FTZs was set up in late 2014 in Fujian and Guangdong provinces as well as Tianjin municipality.
Mr Lee began his four-day working visit to China on Friday, which will include his first trip to Chongqing since the launch of the CCI, which is themed on modern connectivity and modern services and aims to help boost development in China's western region and its links with the region.
Mr Lee will also take part in the Group of Twenty (G20) leaders' summit as one of eight guest-nations invited by China. The two-day summit, which is being held in Hangzhou and begins on Sunday, is the first hosted by China.