Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday credited Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew for making "outstanding contributions" to peace and development in Asia and for fostering the region's ties and cooperation with the rest of the world.
"Mr Lee Kuan Yew is a strategist and statesman that has the respect of the international society," he said.
"I would like to take this opportunity to express my highest respect to all our predecessors, including Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who have made contributions to the peaceful development of Asia."
Mr Xi was giving the opening keynote speech at the annual Boao Forum for Asia in southern Hainan province, with the theme Asia's New Future: Towards A Community of Common Destiny.
The four-day conference, which is meant to promote economic integration in the region, wraps up on Sunday.
The Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Mr Xi's "One Belt, One Road" initiative - a push to revive the ancient maritime and overland silk routes by increasing infrastructural connectivity - are expected to top the agenda of the forum.
Mr Lee died at the age of 91 on March 23.
His state funeral will be held in Singapore on Sunday and will be attended by leaders such as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao and former United States president Bill Clinton.