President Halimah Yacob arrives in China for Winter Olympics

President Halimah Yacob arriving in Beijing on Feb 3, 2022. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

BEIJING - Singapore President Halimah Yacob arrived in Beijing on Thursday evening (Feb 3) for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics on Friday.

"I look forward to viewing the opening ceremony tomorrow evening, and having fruitful discussions with Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping at the upcoming bilateral meetings," she wrote in a Facebook post.

Madam Halimah will be meeting the Chinese leaders over the weekend before returning to Singapore on Sunday.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Mr Xi has not met in person with any foreign leader. He had a packed travel schedule in 2019.

China has implemented some of the strictest travel restrictions as part of measures to deal with the pandemic and is the last major world economy still pursuing a "zero Covid-19" policy.

The Olympics will be taking place within a bubble, with participants confined to a "closed loop" with no access to the general public.

Madam Halimah is among about 20 dignitaries invited to the opening of the Games. Others include Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

In a video titled Our Friends That Come From Afar showing her arrival, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV highlighted the fact that Madam Halimah is making her first official overseas visit during the pandemic.

She is accompanied by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Senior Minister of State for National Development and Foreign Affairs Sim Ann, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, and Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling, and other government officials.

Singapore has no athletes competing in the Winter Games this year.

Remote video URL

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