Singapore, China look to new areas of cooperation

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday. Both leaders agreed to continue working closely together to promote even stronger Asean-China ties.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday. Both leaders agreed to continue working closely together to promote even stronger Asean-China ties.PHOTO: REUTERS

These include financial, defence and legal matters, as leaders reaffirm deep friendship

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong discussed new areas of bilateral cooperation yesterday, as they reaffirmed the deep and strong friendship built over the years by successive generations of leaders.

The new areas of bilateral cooperation include those in financial, judicial and legal matters, as well as in defence, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement.

PM Lee, who visited Chinese tech start-up SenseTime, also expressed Singapore's interest to learn from China's experience in growing a vibrant environment for technology start-ups, the PMO said.

The two leaders' meet at the Great Hall of the People.

In his opening remarks, Mr Xi noted that "in this new historical chapter, there are many opportunities to build our ties in substantial and fruitful ways".

The Chinese leader said Mr Lee's visit embodies mutual consensus to advancing bilateral relations, and demonstrates the closeness of ties.

 
 
 

The leaders reaffirmed the deep and strong friendship built over generations of high-level interactions between Singapore and Chinese leaders. They expressed hope that the close relationship will be taken forward by successive generations.

Mr Lee said he was grateful to receive an invitation to visit China at this busy time, when China is preparing for next month's 19th Party Congress, the country's twice-in-a- decade leadership transition.

Both leaders agreed their countries enjoy strategic congruence and share common interests in many areas, which contributed to their close and multifaceted cooperation over the years. This included the successful collaboration in the three government-to-government projects, namely Suzhou Industrial Park, Tianjin Eco-City and the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative.

They also noted the important role played by the major bilateral mechanisms, such as the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation and Singapore-China Leadership Forum, which are all chaired by the respective deputy prime minister and vice-premier, and the Judicial and Legal Roundtable co-chaired by the countries' chief justices.

Both leaders, whose meeting was the top item on state broadcaster CCTV's 7pm news bulletin, also agreed to continue working closely to promote even stronger Asean- China ties under Singapore's coordinatorship of Asean-China dialogue relations and as Singapore assumes the role of Asean chair next year.

Mr Xi expressed appreciation for Singapore's early support for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The leaders highlighted the potential of the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative and Southern Transport Corridor to play a vital role in supporting the BRI as well as China's domestic developmental priorities, particularly in western China.

Mr Lee said he welcomed Chinese companies to submit strong and competitive bids for the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High-Speed Rail project, given China's extensive experience in the field.

He also met parliamentary chief Zhang Dejiang and anti-graft czar Wang Qishan yesterday.

Mr Zhang said he was pleased to see Mr Lee again. They last met 11 years ago when he was the party secretary of Guangdong province. He said Mr Lee's meetings with China's top leaders, including Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday, showed the country attached great importance to his visit, and to developing friendly relations with Singapore. All four leaders sit on China's top decision-making body, the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee.

Mr Lee and his delegation left for Xiamen, Fujian province, last night.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore, China look to new areas of cooperation'. Print Edition | Subscribe