PM Lee Hsien Loong and Chinese leaders discuss Sino-US relations, Belt and Road cooperation and smart cities

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on April 29, 2019. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

BEIJING - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang separately on Monday (April 29), and discussed the progress of their governmental collaboration projects and other areas where they can work together.

They also exchanged views on regional and global developments, including Sino-US relations and the early conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), said PM Lee's press secretary in a statement.

The RCEP is a free trade agreement between the 10 Asean member states and six other Asia-Pacific nations, including China. Negotiations have stretched for more than six years but are expected to be sewn up this year.

One project President Xi and PM Lee discussed was to twin Singapore and Shenzhen as smart cities under the Asean Smart Cities Network. The move is part of Singapore's broader engagement of the Greater Bay Area, China's ambitious plan to link the province of Guangdong with Hong Kong and Macau to become an economic powerhouse.

The two leaders also took stock of the "good progress" made in the three inter-governmental projects: China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park, Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City and the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity (CCI).

They also welcomed the raising of the status of the China-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City to a state-level bilateral cooperation project.

The potential for companies in their countries to explore a joint project in one of the Asean countries was also underlined by the two leaders.

President Xi noted that next year will mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and bilateral relations now face new opportunities for development.

Meanwhile, the two leaders reaffirmed the multifaceted cooperation between their countries and which is guided by the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation.

They also welcomed the setting up of the new Singapore-Shanghai Comprehensive Cooperation Council, which will strengthen Singapore's engagement of Shanghai and the Yangtze River Delta region.

State news agency Xinhua reported Mr Xi saying that both countries should continue to deepen mutual trust, respect each other's core interests and concerns, and support each other on the road of common development.

PM Lee was in Beijing to attend the second Belt and Road Forum, along with nearly 40 other heads of state.

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Singapore has been an early supporter of President Xi's signature foreign policy campaign, and has partnerships with China in four areas under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): infrastructure connectivity, financial services, joint collaboration to help other BRI countries and cross-border commercial dispute resolution.

With Premier Li, PM Lee witnessed the signing of five agreements on trade, law enforcement and the BRI.

Mr and Mrs Lee were hosted to lunch by Premier Li and his wife Cheng Hong.

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