The relationship between Singapore and China is not just deep and broad-based - it is also forward-looking, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has said.
That Singapore has sent a delegation which includes a number of younger ministers "shows the forward-looking nature of the relationship that we are building with China", Mr Teo told Singapore reporters at the end of a high-level meeting in Beijing yesterday.
"We brought younger ministers along so that they can continue the relationship that was built by our senior leaders, Mr Deng Xiaoping and Mr Lee Kuan Yew, through the generations," said Mr Teo, who is also the Coordinating Minister for National Security.
"We had the opportunity also to meet some of the new Chinese ministers," he added.
Mr Teo noted that Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, with whom he co- chaired yesterday's meetings, was happy to see a new generation of ministers, mayors and party secretaries on his side, and younger ministers on the Singapore side. This new generation is "now continuing with this very longstanding relationship, which will take the relationship further, from strength to strength, into the future", he said.
Xinhua news agency yesterday quoted Mr Zhang as saying that China and Singapore agreed to further synergise development strategies and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation to advance their ties.
"China attaches great importance to developing relations with Singapore and is willing to make joint efforts with the country to sincerely implement the consensus reached by leaders on both sides," Xinhua quoted Mr Zhang as saying.
On yesterday's meetings, including the 13th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), a high-level platform to find ways to deepen and broaden the Singapore-China relationship, Mr Teo said they were good, with practical outcomes.
These were demonstrated by the four memorandums of understanding signed yesterday and 15 agreements on Sunday, linked to the three government-to-government projects, the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI), Tianjin Eco-City (TEC) and Suzhou Industrial Park.
Mr Teo and Mr Zhang also presided over the meetings of the joint steering councils for the three government-led projects.
On the CCI, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, who is in charge of the project, said yesterday that while it has deepened and is continuing to grow in different dimensions, "the good efforts must not stay only in Chongqing", but "be able to be replicated in other parts beyond Chongqing".
Likewise, Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development who oversees the TEC project, underscored the importance of sharing the lessons of the eco-city with other cities in China. If the learning experience of the eco-city is documented, then it "can also play a useful role in contributing to China's urban development", he said.
The two ministers were at the media briefing yesterday.
Asked about the state of bilateral relations, Mr Teo said "even among the best of neighbours and friends, from time to time, there will be differences in perception" because of size, difference in geographical area, interests and vulnerabilities.
"I think we need to recognise that, and both countries recognise that. But the very broad and deep (nature) of cooperation which we have in many areas, I think, came through clearly during our meetings and this is what we focused on, and how to take this relationship forward."
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