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Xi Jinping: Build on past achievements for brighter China-Singapore ties

On the occasion of my forthcoming state visit to Singapore at the invitation of President Tony Tan Keng Yam, I send my warm greetings and express my commitment to further the growth of China-Singapore relations to the Singaporean people.

Known as the garden state, Singapore is familiar to me, a country I have visited a number of times. During each of my visits, I have been deeply impressed by its dynamic development, its unique tropical urban landscape, and its friendly people who live in contentment.

The occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Singapore and 25th birthday of China-Singapore diplomatic relations adds to the significance of my visit.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan arriving in Hanoi yesterday. They are in Singapore today for a two-day visit.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan arriving in Hanoi yesterday. They are in Singapore today for a two-day visit. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

In the past five decades since the founding of Singapore, the Government and people of Singapore have, with a pioneering and enterprising spirit, pursued a path of development suited to the country's national conditions.

The leaders of our two countries have approached our relationship as one of strategic and long-term importance, and charted the course for its growth. This has ensured the growth of China-Singapore ties in a fast-changing international environment.

Singapore enjoys prosperity, social stability and harmony among ethnic groups, and plays a unique and important role in regional and international affairs. Singapore's development has not only brought prosperity to its people, but it has also inspired other Asian countries in their pursuit of development. I am sure that under the leadership of the Singaporean Government, Singapore will make even greater achievements in its development endeavours.

In the quarter of a century since the establishment of diplomatic ties, China and Singapore have helped, supported and learnt from each other, and this has contributed much to our respective development. Indeed, these past 25 years have witnessed leapfrog development in our relations. China is now Singapore's biggest trading partner. Our bilateral trade last year hit US$79.74 billion (S$112.4 billion), a 28-fold increase over two decades ago.

Singapore was one of the first countries to get involved in China's opening-up programme and is now China's biggest source of investment, and an important offshore RMB (renminbi) trading centre.

Building on the success of Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-city, a third bilateral project of cooperation will be launched. Our cooperation in finance, science, technology, environmental protection, education, culture, social governance, law enforcement and security has been deepened, and produced many deliverables.

There are good reasons why China-Singapore relations have come such a long way.

The leaders of our two countries have approached our relationship as one of strategic and long-term importance, and charted the course for its growth. This has ensured the growth of China-Singapore ties in a fast-changing international environment.

We have formed synergy between China's development strategy and Singapore's unique strengths and development needs, fully leveraged the growing China-Asean relations and pursued practical and inclusive cooperation. We have successfully undertaken flagship projects of cooperation and pursued fruitful cooperation in the economic, trade, investment, finance, science, technology and cultural sectors.

We have expanded our cooperation into new areas, such as social governance, food safety, services and connectivity, areas which represent the trend of the new era and are in keeping with our respective development strategies. This has provided an inexhaustible source of energy for growing China-Singapore relations.

As an ancient Chinese teaching goes, one should constantly explore new ways forward to stay ahead. Today, as China-Singapore relations have reached a new historical starting point, we should build on past achievements to create an even brighter future for our two countries.

The following are the steps I believe we should take:

  • We should continue to provide leadership guidance. Strategic planning and top guidance, a valuable asset of China-Singapore relations, should be fully leveraged. We should maintain close high-level exchanges, strengthen political mutual trust, enhance strategic dialogue, approach our relations with mutual understanding and respect, and solidify the political foundation of China-Singapore ties.
  • We should deepen and expand our practical cooperation. China is endeavouring to sustain growth under new conditions by adopting the 13th five-year plan of development, deepening reform, opening up wider, implementing an innovation-driven development strategy, and adjusting and improving the economic structure. Singapore is now working on its Research, Innovation and Enterprise five-year plan to upgrade economic development. Our two countries should synergise our respective development strategies, expand converging interests, take solid steps to pursue cooperation projects, create new growth areas for cooperation and upgrade our practical cooperation.
  • We should pursue close cooperation on regional and international affairs. China, guided by the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, is committed to maintaining and promoting friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation with its neighbours. We are pursuing the initiative of building a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road; and we are dedicated to building a close community of shared future for both China and Asean and the whole of Asia.

Singapore is an important member of Asean, the current Country Coordinator for China-Asean relations and an influential actor on the regional and international stage.

Our two countries should jointly pursue various cooperation initiatives, boost development cooperation, and jointly promote integration in our region, peace and development in Asia and prosperity of the people of the world.

I look forward to exchanging views with Singaporean leaders on these steps and lifting China-Singapore relations to a higher level.

Bai Juyi, a famous Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty, described true friendship as being as valuable as gold. China is ready to partner with Singapore to carry forward the China-Singapore friendship, created and nurtured by the older generations of leaders of our two countries.

May the China-Singapore friendship continue to grow and thrive, just like the vibrant and luxuriant rain trees that one sees everywhere in Singapore.

  • The writer is President of the People's Republic of China, and is in Singapore on a two-day visit starting today.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 06, 2015, with the headline 'Build on past achievements for brighter China-S'pore ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe