BEIJING - Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean is in China for a wide-ranging, nine-day visit that will take in Beijing, Tianjin, Guangxi, Chongqing and Gansu.
Mr Teo will meet key Chinese leaders, such as Vice-Premier Han Zheng on Friday (June 29) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
The visit aims to further bilateral ties through cooperation in the three government-to-government (G2G) projects and Singapore's involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative .
In an interview with Xinhua news agency, Mr Teo said he will discuss the agenda for the 14th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) with Mr Han, his new co-chair of the highest-level forum between China and Singapore.
The annual meeting is slated to take place in Singapore in the next few months, as will an official visit by Premier Li Keqiang.
"Both sides are laying the groundwork for a substantive meeting," he said.
Noting that Singapore and China have enjoyed a strong friendship for 40 years that has progressed with the times, Mr Teo expressed confidence in deepening collaboration.
"I believe we can break new ground through cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative and take our relations to greater heights," said Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security.
After Beijing, Mr Teo will travel to Tianjin Eco-City, the second G2G project which marks its 10th anniversary this year. He will observe "sponge city" and other urban water conservation initiatives.
Mr Teo will also visit key nodes along the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative-Southern Transport Corridor (CCI-STC), including Chongqing, Guangxi and Gansu, "to have first-hand insight".
The CCI-STC is the newest G2G project that aims to cut goods freight times between Western China, South-east Asia and the rest of the world by using rail and new sea lines between Qinzhou and Singapore.
"As one of the world's busiest transshipment hubs with connections to 600 ports globally, I see Singapore playing a key part in extending this CCI-STC to international markets beyond the region," he said. "This will help to catalyse overall economic development in Western China and attract more foreign and local companies to expand their presence there through Chongqing."
In Gansu, Mr Teo will deliver the keynote speech at the 24th China Lanzhou Investment and Trade Fair, which has designated Singapore as country-of-honour.
He will be accompanied by Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Industry Dr Tan Wu Meng, as well as senior officials.