Singapore, China to work on improving connectivity and cooperation within framework of Belt and Road initiative: Vivian Balakrishnan

Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan shaking hands with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan shaking hands with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.ST PHOTO: CHONG KOH PING

BEIJING - Singapore and China have agreed to work together to improve connectivity, further financial cooperation and enhance training and technology transfer within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) framework.

"(It) is a wonderful idea, and we have always been an early supporter of the initiative," said Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan in Beijing on Monday (June 12) at a joint press briefing with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

Launched in 2013, the BRI is an ambitious Chinese project to link Asia, Africa and Europe through building roads, railways, ports and industrial parks along two ancient trading routes overland and via sea.

Calling it a "great opportunity", Dr Balakrishnan said "a lot of work still needs to be done".

But if given time, the countries along the two trade routes will be able to integrate their economies and expand the opportunities for the people and businesses in the region, he added.

Both countries will make full use of cooperation under the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI) to develop a connectivity network across land and sea.


China will also leverage on Singapore's strength as a regional financial centre to raise funds needed to finance various Belt and Road projects.

China and Singapore will also work together to open up third markets in South-east Asia, South Asia and beyond, tapping on the respective strengths of the two countries.

Mr Wang said China welcomes Singapore's support and participation in the BRI.

"Building the Belt and Road together will be the biggest highlight of our bilateral relations," he told reporters when asked to comment on ties between the two countries.

"Given Singapore's location in the region, it will be well-positioned to play an important role in the Belt and Road initiative," he said.

Being partners in the BRI will add more substance to bilateral ties and bring about peace and stability in the region, he added.

This was Dr Balakrishnan's second visit to Beijing this year and his fourth meeting with Mr Wang in six months.

Dr Balakrishnan last visited the Chinese capital in February for the 13th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation meeting, which is a high-level platform for discussing ways to deepen and broaden Singapore-China cooperation.

In a 45-minute meeting before the press briefing, Dr Balakrishnan took the opportunity to introduce Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Health Chee Hong Tat and Minister of State for Manpower and Foreign Affairs Sam Tan to Mr Wang.

"(Mr Chee) is part of the next generation of our leaders and he's here to get to know you better and be more familiar with the issues," he said at the opening of the meeting.

Dr Balakrishnan will also call on China's Vice-President Li Yuanchao and State Councillor Yang Jiechi on Monday.