BEIJING - The courts of Singapore and China can learn from each other through the sharing of experiences and the best practices of both sides.
The two judiciaries should also work together to tackle common challenges in an increasingly interconnected world, said Singapore Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon in an interview published in Legal Daily on Tuesday (Aug 22).
Chief Justice Menon is leading a delegation of senior judges and legal officials on a two-day visit to Beijing.
He co-chaired the inaugural Singapore-China Legal and Judicial Roundtable with his Chinese counterpart Zhou Qiang on Monday (Aug 21). Both countries signed a memorandum of understanding to further cooperation in legal and judicial matters.
In the interview with Legal Daily, CJ Menon said: "Cooperation between our two judiciaries builds upon the existing broad and deep cooperation between our two countries."
"This shows that our bilateral cooperation goes beyond the usual areas of trade, investment, education and culture. It is another example of how we can share our experiences and cooperate for mutual benefit based on mutual trust and respect."
The interview was translated into Chinese.
CJ Menon noted that he had met China's top legal officials at various events.
"These interactions have left me with the deep impression of the seriousness with which China views the rule of law, which befits its status as a very important player on the international stage," he told the state-owned newspaper.
With the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to build roads, railroads, ports and industrial parks along two ancient Silk Road trade routes via land and sea, China has embarked on a more "outward-looking" strategy for economic growth, he noted.
China's judiciary recognises that its prosperity and its international standing rely on a stable and rules-based multilateral system, and has reached out in many ways to the judiciaries of the region to foster greater understanding, CJ Menon added.
In the interview, he raised the example of a Chinese court recognising and enforcing an earlier judgement made by a Singapore court.
In December 2016, the Nanjing Intermediate People's Court recognised and enforced a civil judgment made by the Singapore High Court in October 2015. This was based on the principle of reciprocity as the Singapore High Court had in January 2014 enforced a civil judgement made in 2008 by the Suzhou Intermediate People's Court of Jiangsu Province.
Last December's judgement by the Nanjing Intermediate People's Court marked the first time a Chinese court has recognised and enforced a Singapore commercial judgement. This is despite the absence of any treaty or bilateral agreement between both countries that allow for the mutual recognition and enforcement of each other's court judgments
Referring to this "landmark case", CJ Menon said: "From the perspective of Chinese and Singapore businesses, they would have greater confidence in dealing with each other, knowing that commercial disputes heard in the courts of one country could be recognised and enforced by the courts of the other.
"Such clarity and certainty can only be good for our business communities."
CJ Menon said there is much potential for both countries to work together on BRI projects in fostering a predictable, stable and fair legal environment that will boost business confidence.
Singapore has various institutions such as the Singapore International Commercial Court, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and the Singapore International Mediation Centre, which could be effective, reliable and neutral options to support the BRI, he said.
Another area for collaboration between the courts of the two countries is in the area of joint training in legal and judicial matters for Belt and Road countries, he added.
On Monday, CJ Menon held talks with Mr Zhou, who heads China's Supreme People's Court, and met top procurator Cao Jianming.
On Tuesday (Aug 22), he is meeting Mr Meng Jianzhu, a Politburo member of the Chinese Communist Party and the secretary of the party's Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission.