DPM Heng Swee Keat meets Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, discusses ways to deepen cooperation

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat (left) and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also reaffirmed both countries' commitment to preserving an open and rules-based multilateral trading system. PHOTO: HENG SWEE KEAT/FACEBOOK

BEIJING - Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat called on Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and other top Chinese leaders here on Thursday (May 23) to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation.

Meeting with Mr Li at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound, the two leaders welcomed the progress of collaboration in existing areas such as the Belt and Road Initiative, the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Initiative-New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (CCI-ILSTC), three government-to-government projects and the China-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City.

They also discussed new opportunities to deepen cooperation, including in the Greater Bay Area and the Yangtze River Delta region, and reaffirmed both countries' commitment to preserving an open and rules-based multilateral trading system, Mr Heng's press secretary said.

Mr Li congratulated Mr Heng on his appointment as deputy prime minister, and said China was committed to working with Singapore to advance bilateral cooperation through the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) and other platforms.

Mr Heng took over last month (Apr) as co-chair of the JCBC, the highest-level forum between the two countries, from Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean.

Mr Heng noted the good tempo of bilateral visits by officials from both sides, and that Mr Li had met both Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Halimah Yacob when they were in Beijing earlier this year.

"The fact that you have spent so much time with us, that shows the importance (of) and attention you have personally paid to our bilateral relations, and I thank you for that attention," Mr Heng said.

Against the backdrop of what Chinese leaders have called "an increasingly complicated international situation" due to growing tensions with the US, Mr Li said China will continue to open up its market and protect foreign investment.

"We welcome investments by businesses from Singapore and other countries to China, and we will, as always, treat all the businesses registered in China as equals and foster a level playing field and a more enabling business environment," he said.

Mr Heng was also hosted to lunch by director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office Yang Jiechi, and dinner by head of the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China Song Tao, where the leaders exchanged views on regional and international issues of interest.

Mr Heng is on a week-long trip to China that began on Wednesday.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.