President Halimah and President Xi reaffirm S'pore-China ties

President Halimah Yacob (left) and China's Xi Jinping reaffirmed the excellent state of bilateral relations. PHOTO: XINHUA

BEIJING - Singapore President Halimah Yacob and her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Sunday (Feb 6) agreed to continue upgrading bilateral relations and welcomed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will further cooperation in giant panda research, said a statement from Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

Madam Halimah met Mr Xi at the Great Hall of The People on the last day of her working visit to Beijing, which included attending the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics last Friday.

Both leaders reaffirmed the excellent state of bilateral relations, which they said maintained a positive momentum, even during the Covid-19 pandemic. They added that both governments should "step up collaboration in existing areas of cooperation", including the three inter-government projects in Suzhou, Tianjin and Chongqing.

They also welcomed more cooperation in areas like the digital economy, the green economy and smart cities.

"(The leaders) also discussed the importance of strengthening people-to-people ties, and looked forward to the full resumption of air connectivity and people-to-people exchanges when conditions permitted," the statement said.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry read-out of the meeting said Mr Xi called on both sides to leverage each other's strengths to achieve "win-win cooperation".

"The Singaporean side is welcome to rely on the local cooperation mechanism established with Chinese provinces and cities to play a greater role in China's dual circulation economy," he said.

Singapore has eight provincial business and economic councils - with Sichuan, Shandong, Liaoning, Zhejiang, Tianjin, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Shanghai.

During the meeting, both leaders also unveiled the name of a student hostel built in the remote Anzi Town in Chongqing to mark the 30th anniversary of bilateral relations.

Madam Halimah noted that the hostel symbolised the "strong friendship between our peoples and the importance that both countries attached to education", said the MFA statement.

President Halimah Yacob (fourth from left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (fourth from right) having their bilateral meeting at Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Feb 6, 2022. PHOTO: XINHUA

"Zhixinlou", which translates to "understanding and learning more about Singapore", can house over 100 students, significantly reducing travel time for students living in rural areas who previously had to trek hours just to attend school.

It was built using funds raised by the Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China, and Singapore's foreign missions in China, and has been in use since January 2021.

The MFA statement also announced a new MOU signed between Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry and China's National Forestry and Grassland Administration promoting further exchange and knowledge sharing between both sides in the management and conservation of giant pandas.

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