SINGAPORE - President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have conveyed their best wishes to China on the 68th anniversary of the country's founding, in letters to their Chinese counterparts, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
The Singaporean leaders underlined the close cooperation between the two countries on China's "Belt and Road" initiative, and said that Singapore would promote cooperation between Asean and Beijing as the incoming chair of the bloc. Singapore is also the Asean-China coordinator.
According to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs press statement issued on Saturday (Sept 30), Madam Halimah told President Xi: "Over the past decades, China's peaceful development has uplifted the lives of the Chinese people, and contributed much to the stability and prosperity of our region and the world. I am confident that under your leadership, China will enjoy continued peace and prosperity."
She underlined the long-standing and friendly relations between the two countries. "Our cooperation covers a wide range of areas including trade and investment, financial services, human resource development, social governance, sustainable development and defence. We are advancing towards the substantive upgrade of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement," said Madam Halimah.
She noted that two government-to-government projects, the Suzhou Industrial Park and the Tianjin Eco-city, are successful, and a third - the Sino-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Initiative - has seen good progress and is starting to contribute to the "Belt and Road" Initiative, Yangtze River Economic Belt and Western Region Development initiatives championed by the Chinese government.
"In support of closer cooperation on the "Belt and Road" Initiative, we established three bilateral platforms for (i) infrastructure connectivity, (ii) financial connectivity and support; and (iii) third party cooperation, including the joint training of officials from 'Belt and Road' countries," she noted.
She also drew attention to the establishment of a Judicial and Legal Roundtable by judiciaries of the two countries to facilitate closer cooperation and sharing on judicial and legal matters, including to support the "Belt and Road" Initiative.
"I am confident that the successful implementation of these initiatives would raise our partnership to a new high point," she said.
Singapore and China have also worked well at regional and multilateral fora, Madam Halimah observed, stating, "As the Asean-China Country Coordinator and incoming Asean Chair in 2018, Singapore will continue to be an honest broker to work closely with China and other Asean Member States to promote greater mutual understanding and cooperation between Asean and China."
She wished China continued peace and prosperity and conveyed her husband's and her wishes of good health and success for Mr Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan.
In his congratulatory message to Premier Li, Prime Minister Lee said that China has made remarkable progress over the last few decades and a vibrant and prosperous China has greatly benefited its people, and also contributed to the growth and development of the region and the world.
"I am confident that China will continue to adapt, innovate and advance in our fast-changing global environment," he said.
Mr Lee said Singapore cherishes its friendship with China, "which is anchored on deepening and broadening bilateral economic, political and cultural cooperation".
He recalled his official visit to China in September at Mr Li's invitation, where both sides reaffirmed the substantial progress made in building an "All Round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times".
"To enhance our bilateral cooperation, our officials are working hard towards the expeditious conclusion of a substantive upgrade of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. Our judiciaries have also held the inaugural Judicial and Legal Roundtable in August to share experiences on judicial and legal matters."
He also highlighted that the good progress made in the Sino-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Initiative - a demonstrative project on the “Belt and Road” Initiative - is testament to Singapore's strong support for China’s regional development.
"We have also jointly established three bilateral platforms for 'Belt and Road' cooperation on (i) infrastructure connectivity, (ii) financial connectivity and support; and (iii) third party cooperation, including on the joint training of officials from 'Belt and Road' countries," he noted.
Mr Lee underscored the significant improvement in Asean-China relations over the past year with the implementation of several economic initiatives and constructive confidence-building measures.
He said that as the country coordinator for Asean-China dialogue relations and the incoming Asean Chair, Singapore will continue to play a constructive role to promote cooperation between the bloc and China.
He concluded his letter by expressing hope that he and his wife Ho Ching would be able to host Mr Li and his wife Cheng Hong on an official visit to Singapore at the earliest mutually convenient time.