BEIJING - Suzhou Industrial Park, the first flagship project of the China and Singapore governments which started 23 years ago, began a path of mutual benefit and is an example of friendly cooperation between the two countries, a senior Chinese official said on Monday (Feb 27).
Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli reminded representatives from both countries that it was 23 years ago almost to the day, Feb 26, at the same venue - Diaoyutai State Guesthouse - that the governments of the two countries signed an agreement to jointly develop the industrial park.
The successful development of the park shows the decision by the leaders of the two countries was "absolutely correct", he said.
Mr Zhang was speaking at the 18th China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Joint Steering Council (JSC), which he was co-chairing with Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.
They also presided over the steering council meetings of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city and Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI) project.
At the inaugural meeting of the CCI JSC, Mr Teo noted that both countries placed emphasis on the project, the third and latest started in November 2015, "as a key demonstrative project under China's Belt and Road, western region development and Yangtze River economic belt development strategies".
"This project marks a new highlight in our bilateral relations in line with our all-round cooperative partnership progressing with the times," said Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security.
Mr Teo and Mr Zhang rounded off their series of meetings with the 13th round of the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), a high-level platform started in 2004 to discuss ways to deepen and broaden the Singapore-China relationship.
Mr Teo said the JCBC is a special bilateral platform through which ideas are sown and later translated into "mutually beneficial projects".
He said he had brought with him many young ministers, making up some 40 per cent of the Singapore Cabinet. "What we hope to do is build deep, strong and long lasting relationship with China," he added.
Mr Zhang, for his part, urged that the two countries together grasp the opportunities presented by the new and changing situation in the region, strengthen their complementarities and cooperate fully
Earlier on Monday, Mr Teo and Mr Zhang, also a member of the Communist Party's apex Politburo Standing Committee, held a bilateral meeting at which the latter noted that ties between China and Singapore have grown from strength to strength.
He also conveyed the greetings of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to the Singapore delegation, saying that Mr Li is busy preparing for the annual session of the National Party Congress, China's Parliament, which starts on March 5. Mr Li will be giving a government work report at the opening session.
The series of meetings were held at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, a historic and idyllic complex of villas and gardens.
The Suzhou Industrial Park and the Tianjin Eco-city are the first two government-to-government projects, started in 1994 and 2008 respectively, which have helped cement ties between the two countries. The CCI aims to turn Chongqing into a logistics and services hub.
After reviewing the progress on these flagship projects and discussing the direction of future cooperation, Mr Teo and Mr Zhang witnessed the signing of four cooperation pacts, which include cooperation in intellectual property rights protection, furthering collaborations in the biomedical industry as well as the development of a transport and logistics hub.
On Sunday, several memorandums of understanding were signed for the CCI and the Tianjin Eco-city. Mr Teo also met Mr Zhao Leji, head of the Communist Party's Organisation Department, and held a dialogue with the Singaporean community in Beijing.
He is accompanied on this trip by Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang; Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan; Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu; Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Chan Chun Sing; Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong; Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng; Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung as well as other senior officials.