DPM Heng meets key Chinese leaders, reaffirms strong ties

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat holding talks with Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He (second from far left) in Beijing yesterday. With Mr Heng are (from right) Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Culture, Community and You
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat holding talks with Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He (second from far left) in Beijing yesterday. With Mr Heng are (from right) Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann; Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee; and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Social and Family Development Sam Tan.PHOTO: HENG SWEE KEAT/ FACEBOOK

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat capped off his four-day visit to China yesterday by meeting China's key political leaders.

Mr Heng called on Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan in the morning, where the two leaders reaffirmed the strong cooperation between Singapore and China built by past generations of leaders on both sides.

He later met Vice-Premier Liu He, where they exchanged views on global economic developments and discussed new initiatives to further bilateral cooperation.

In a Facebook post as he wrapped up his visit to China, Mr Heng said he had a fruitful and productive trip with his fourth-generation leadership colleagues, where they spent time taking stock of progress made on government-to-government projects. During the visit, Mr Heng co-chaired for the first time the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) with Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng.

Mr Wang and Mr Liu are key lieutenants of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Mr Wang is widely considered Mr Xi's right-hand man and close confidant, while Mr Liu is China's point man in its ongoing trade negotiations with the United States.

At Mr Heng's meeting with Mr Wang, the two leaders exchanged views on enhancing bilateral cooperation, including under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and in response to common challenges such as ageing populations. The BRI is a signature policy of Mr Xi, whose vision is to recreate a 21st-century Silk Road of overland corridors and shipping lanes.

Mr Wang, who is an old friend of Singapore and former JCBC co-chair, said during their meeting that Mr Xi had asked that the two of them (Mr Heng and Mr Wang) meet during this trip.

Recalling that he was the minister-in-attendance when Mr Xi visited Singapore in 2015, and that they had met at a number of Group of 20 meetings, Mr Heng told reporters the Republic is one of the few countries with such a level of engagement with the Chinese leadership.

"That creates a lot of opportunities for interaction, and a lot of opportunities for businesses and our people," he said.

 
 

Other topics that Mr Heng discussed with Chinese officials included key trends and global developments such as economic restructuring, skills training, and the impact of ageing populations and the fourth industrial revolution.

Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, also discussed with Mr Liu new initiatives to further bilateral cooperation, including in financial connectivity which would support regional development. Earlier in the trip, Mr Heng had also met Chongqing party chief Chen Min'er and Tianjin party secretary Li Hongzhong.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2019, with the headline 'DPM Heng meets key Chinese leaders, reaffirms strong ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe