Crowd greets VIP with cheers in Queen St

Above: President Xi Jinping leaving after attending the opening of the China Cultural Centre, which is designed by prominent Singapore architect Liu Thai Ker. Right: Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong greeting Mr Xi at the centre. Beside them are
Above: President Xi Jinping leaving after attending the opening of the China Cultural Centre, which is designed by prominent Singapore architect Liu Thai Ker. Right: Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong greeting Mr Xi at the centre. Beside them are China's Culture Minister Luo Shugang (left) and Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Above: President Xi Jinping leaving after attending the opening of the China Cultural Centre, which is designed by prominent Singapore architect Liu Thai Ker. Right: Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong greeting Mr Xi at the centre. Beside them are
Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong greeting Mr Xi at the centre. Beside them are China's Culture Minister Luo Shugang (left) and Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

More than a hundred Chinese nationals gathered along Queen Street to catch a glimpse of their President yesterday morning.

When Mr Xi Jinping arrived for the opening of the China Cultural Centre shortly after 8.30am, the crowd greeted him with cheers and waved small flags.

Mr Xi, who was in Singapore on a state visit to mark the 25th anniversary of bilateral ties, waved back at well-wishers as his car drove past.

Among them was housewife Lu Guan Le, 39, a Shandong native and permanent resident who took along her two daughters, aged six and three.

"My children are Singaporeans, like their dad, but I keep up with China's developments and tell them about it," she said.

Joining Mr Xi for the official opening of the 11-storey centre was Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, China's Culture Minister Luo Shugang and Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng.

In a short speech, Mr Baey said President Xi's state visit, as well as President Tony Tan Keng Yam's state visit to China in July, "testify to the good relations that Singapore and China enjoy at the highest level, and across many sectors".

Mr Baey noted that earlier this year, then Community, Culture and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong visited Beijing for the seventh edition of the Singapore-China Executive Programme, paving the way for more cultural partnerships between both countries' institutions.

"Such exchanges, and the establishment of the China Cultural Centre, will help us cultivate a deeper and richer appreciation of each other's arts and culture," he added.

Both countries, in a joint statement, also pledged to strengthen cultural cooperation.

The centre, which is open to the public, is designed by prominent Singapore architect Liu Thai Ker, and took over two years to build. It also has a library and will host regular exhibitions, including one tracing 25 years of bilateral relations.

There are more than 20 similar centres all over the world and China aims to have at least 50 by 2020 to promote its culture and further bolster its soft power abroad.

Some Chinese nationals who did not manage to see Mr Xi up close at the cultural centre decided to try their luck at the Botanic Gardens, where Mr Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan had an orchid named after them and were hosted to lunch by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching.

Said undergraduate Sharon Yang, 19, who took a taxi to the Botanic Gardens: "President Xi has done a great many things, but the most important is his firm anti-corruption stance. To get the chance to try to see him in person is an honour."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 08, 2015, with the headline 'Crowd greets VIP with cheers in Queen St'. Print Edition | Subscribe