XIAMEN (Fujian) • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday that he hopes his visit to Xiamen, in Fujian province, will lead to more exchanges and projects between Singapore and the Chinese city.
In a meeting with Fujian party secretary You Quan, Mr Lee marvelled at how much the city has changed since his last visit 26 years ago, when it was just starting to open up. "Last night, driving in from the airport, I could not recognise the landscape. It has completely changed," he said.
"I was hoping to be able to visit Gulangyu (Gulang Island) again this time, which I did in the previous trip, but unfortunately, I would not have the chance. But we could see it across the water and we could see Zheng Chenggong's statue last night beautifully lit up," said Mr Lee, referring to the Ming dynasty loyalist who took control of Taiwan in 1662.
Gulangyu, known for pianos and European-style houses, was made a Unesco heritage site this summer.
Mr Lee said he visited Zhongshan Road, the heart of Xiamen's commercial area, where he officiated at the unveiling of the reconstructed OCBC building yesterday morning.
He said the Singapore delegation had the chance to walk around to get a sense of its atmosphere.
He said: "There is a vibrancy and enthusiasm and entrepreneurship zeal which will generate a lot of progress and prosperity."
Mr Lee told Mr You: "I hope that my visit could stimulate interest in greater connection, greater exchanges and more projects and cooperation between Singapore and Xiamen."
Mr You noted the good meetings Mr Lee had with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, national legislature chief Zhang Dejiang and top graft-buster Wang Qishan in Beijing. "I believe your visit this time will further the traditional relationship between China and Singapore, as well as our close cooperation," he said.
Fujian has enjoyed rapid development in the past three decades after China's reform and opening up, said Mr You, noting Xiamen was designated as one of China's four special economic zones back then.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, one of the Singapore ministers on the trip, met his counterpart Chang Wanquan yesterday. Dr Ng wrote on Facebook that they met to "discuss practical ways to strengthen our defence relations".
Lim Yan Liang