Singapore-China cooperation given 'tremendous impetus': China's Yang Jiechi

Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi (right) at a meeting with Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. -- PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO 
Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi (right) at a meeting with Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. -- PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO 

COOPERATION between Singapore and China has seen "tremendous impetus" from the series of high-level bilateral meetings held over the past few days, said Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi yesterday.

At a meeting with Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean in Beijing's Zhongnanhai compound, where China's top leaders work and live, Mr Yang said projects like the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), the Tianjin Eco-City and the proposed third government-to-government project had all been given a boost.

"With the guidance of leaders of both countries and the joint efforts of our peoples, continuous progress has been made in China-Singapore ties," he added.

In response, Mr Teo said both countries had "excellent discussions" in a broad range of areas.

"We reviewed progress in the Tianjin Eco-City and discussed further areas of cooperation," he said. "We also inaugurated important new areas of cooperation such as the direct trading of the renminbi and Singapore dollar which commences today."

Discussions on the proposed third bilateral project were also "going well", he noted.

Mr Teo, who wrapped up his three-day official visit to China yesterday, had co-chaired the annual Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) with Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli in Suzhou on Monday.

New milestones such as direct currency trading and a widening scope of cooperation in areas like social governance and financial services were also discussed at the meetings.

The JCBC is the highest-level mechanism for bilateral cooperation. It was held in eastern Suzhou this year in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the SIP.

The SIP and the Tianjin Eco-City, launched in 1994 and 2008 respectively, are the first two flagship government-to-government projects. A third was proposed by Mr Zhang during last year's JCBC in Singapore.

Later in the day, Mr Teo also met with Central Military Commission vice-chair Fan Changlong at Jinxi Hotel in western Beijing where top Communist Party leaders usually hold their meetings.

Gen Fan touched on the close ties between China and Singapore ties, drawing on an anecdote that also touched on his friendship with Mr Teo.

He said Mr Teo had made "great effort" to have a breakfast meeting with him when he made a brief stopover in Changi Airport last July enroute to Australia.

"We had a very friendly exchange during that meeting, through which you expressed affection towards the Chinese people and friendship towards myself. I was deeply moved by that," Gen Fan added.

He also noted the "fruitful exchange" during the JCBC that has led to cooperation between both countries being improved and further expanded.

The direct currency exchange, for instance, is very significant for China too, he said, even as Beijing pushes to internationalise the yuan amid a slew of financial and economic reforms.

esthert@sph.com.sg