Ties between Singapore and China are "warm and progressing", said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday while on a visit to Beijing.
In a meeting with Chinese Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan, Mr Tharman pointed to the steady tempo of visits between the two countries, noting that both Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean will visit China next month.
"As you have said, our relationship is not only warm but it is also progressing," he said in his opening remarks to Madam Sun.
Mr Tharman, who was on a five-day visit to China, met Madam Sun at Ziguang Ge - or the Hall of Purple Light - within the Zhongnanhai leadership compound.
The hall was once the venue where Chinese Emperor Qianlong feted loyal officials and generals. It is now used by Chinese leaders to receive foreign guests.
Madam Sun said China and Singapore are "friendly neighbours and critical cooperation partners", and that Mr Tharman is also China's good friend.
"Our bilateral relationship enjoys good public support and frequent high-level visits," she added.
Besides affirming bilateral relations, both leaders also exchanged views on programmes related to education and healthcare, and agreed to enhance cooperation in these areas, said the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) of Singapore in a statement yesterday.
Mr Tharman is expected to leave Beijing for Singapore early this morning. During his visit, he also spoke at the annual China Development Forum, a gathering of Chinese leaders as well as business and academic elites.
He also met other Chinese leaders - including People's Bank of China governor Yi Gang, China Banking Regulatory Commission chairman Guo Shuqing and China Securities Regulatory Commission chairman Yi Huiman - as well as leaders of companies.
The PMO said the meetings were "productive" and both sides agreed that Singapore could play a useful role in the development of China's financial markets.
"Both sides will continue to engage in active discussions to advance initiatives across the key pillars of financial cooperation."