S'pore, China to deepen legal cooperation, new vice-minister platform created

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam with Chinese State Councillor and Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi in Beijing on Dec 6, 2019. PHOTO: K SHANMUGAM/FACEBOOK

BEIJING - Singapore and China have inked an agreement to deepen legal cooperation, including the setting up of a new vice-minister level platform between the two sides which will meet once every two years.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, who is in Guangzhou for a global legal forum, signed the deal with his Chinese counterpart, Minister for Justice Fu Zhenghua in the southern Chinese city on Monday (Dec 9).

The new Singapore-China Legal Cooperation Council comes amid closer legal and judicial cooperation between the two countries, a new area of collaboration singled out by top leaders from both sides.

The deal signed on Monday covers several areas, including on strengthening the rule of law, international commercial dispute resolution, and the administration of the legal profession.

At the opening ceremony of the forum on Monday (Dec 9), Mr Shanmugam said both Singapore and China are stepping up exchanges and cooperation, including on the Belt and Road Initiative.

"With the development of the Greater Bay Area and the BRI, more Chinese companies are becoming international. They are investing in projects overseas. Their legal and dispute resolution needs will grow. They present new opportunities for us to work together," he said.

In his speech, Mr Shanmugam also said that how the role of law developed in China would have big implications on whether it could ensure broad-based prosperity as it moved on from middle-income status.

In Western countries, the rule of law has made possible economic progress and political stability by ensuring, among other things, protection of property rights, business certainty, equality and accountability before the law, due process, and an impartial delivery of justice, said Mr Shanmugam.

"The question for China will be how to shape these concepts and fit them with its own national conditions and political system," he said, adding that how China did so would have big implications also for countries in Southeast Asia.

Mr Shanmugam arrived in Beijing last Thursday (Dec 5) for a nine-day official visit. Besides the Chinese capital and Guangzhou, he was in Shenzhen on Sunday where he addressed another legal seminar.

On Friday in Beijing, he met State Councillor and Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi and vice-minister of emergency management Huang Ming, and both sides reaffirmed relations between their law enforcement and civil defence agencies.

Mr Shanmugam will end his visit in Shanghai where he is due to meet public security officials.

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