President Halimah Yacob attends Winter Olympics opening in Beijing

President Halimah Yacob with Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s Ambassador to China Lui Tuck Yew and Minister of State Low Yen Ling at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony. PHOTO: VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN/FACEBOOK
President Halimah Yacob is among 25 dignitaries who attended the opening of the Games. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING - Singapore President Halimah Yacob on Friday (Feb 4) attended the Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

In an Instagram post by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Madam Halimah could be seen dressed in a black coat and fur trimmed gloves while watching proceedings at the “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium.

She arrived in Beijing on Thursday evening and shortly thereafter, in a Facebook post, said: "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."

Madam Halimah will be meeting the Chinese leaders on the weekend before returning home on Sunday.

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

China has implemented some of the world's 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.

This includes borders that largely remained closed, and quarantine of between 14 and 28 days for anyone arriving from overseas.

The Olympics are taking place within a bubble, with participants confined to a "closed loop" with no access to the general public. There are no Singapore athletes competing at these Games.

Madam Halimah is among 30 heads of state, governments and international organisations who attended the opening of the Games. Others include Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

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

Dr Balakrishnan on Friday met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. Both ministers exchanged views on "regional and international developments", Dr Balakrishnan wrote in a Facebook post.

"Singapore and China share a unique special relationship due to extensive economic, cultural and people-to-people ties," he said in the late afternoon post.

"We will continue to explore ways to deepen our cooperation, especially in connectivity, the digital economy and sustainable development."

Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan greets his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing on Feb 4, 2022. PHOTO: SINGAPORE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

A Chinese Foreign Ministry statement said both men touched on developments regarding the South China Sea, Sino-US relations and other issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

"On the Myanmar issue, (Mr) Wang Yi said that China has always supported Asean centrality and supports Asean unity in resolving the issue in the Asean way," the statement said.

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