6 things that Xi Jinping did while in Singapore

SINGAPORE - Chinese President Xi Jinping's two-day visit to Singapore on Friday (Nov 6) and Saturday was packed back-to-back with events, including a historic meeting with Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou.

This was his first state visit to Singapore as president, and he was accompanied by his wife, the elegantly-dressed Peng Liyuan.

Here are six things he did.

1. Straight from the airport to the Istana

Mr Xi with Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat at Changi Airport.    ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The Chinese leader arrived at about 5.30pm on Friday on an Air China flight from Vietnam, where he had been on an official visit, and was driven in an Audi A8 W12 bearing the licence plate S1 to the Istana.

(From left) Ms Peng, Mr Xi, President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Mrs Mary Tan at the Istana on Friday, Nov 6, 2015.   ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

He was welcomed by President Tony Tan Keng Yam, and this was followed by a state banquet at the Istana.

Dr Tan said Singapore and China share a unique bilateral relationship built on wide-ranging cooperation that evolves with the times. Mr Xi noted that ties between the two countries have reached a new level of development and cited a Chinese saying that means the higher you stand, the farther you see.

2. Morning visit to China Cultural Centre

Part of the crowd that was waiting for Mr Xi at the China Cultural Centre in Queen Street.   ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Saturday started early with a 9am stop in Queen Street to officially open the China Cultural Centre, where he was greeted by Emeritus Minister Goh Chok Tong.

A crowd was waiting, some waving miniature China flags.

Among them were housewife Lu Guan Le, 39, whose two young daughters love "Peng Mama's" clothes, and online marketing manager William Lee, who said: "I'm normally the sort to wake up at noon on Saturday but it's not every day that the president comes to a city you're living in. This is a very intimate chance to see him up close."

3. Next stop: Singapore Lecture

Mr Xi (second from left) waving to the audience after giving his lecture. With him are (from left) National University of Singapore president Tan Chorh Chuan, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Iseas Board of Trustees chairman Wang Gungwu.   ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

After half an hour at the China Cultural Centre, he was off to the National University of Singapore's Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music where he gave a Singapore Lecture.

He pledged that there will never be a problem with freedom of maritime navigation or overland flights in the South China Sea.

The "starting point and ultimate purpose" of China's policy in the South China Sea is the maintenance of peace and stability, Mr Xi said, adding that a stable environment for development is the "common interest of all Asian countries".

He also lauded the "hardworking and visionary people of Singapore" who have built the city into one of most advanced countries in Asia, and paid tribute to the "the great statesmen who forged this relationship, Deng Xiaoping and Lee Kuan Yew".

4. Cementing Singapore-China ties

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) with Mr Xi at the Istana on Saturday, Nov 7, 2015.   ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

It was then back to the Istana again, where he met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and witnessed the signing of several agreements between China and Singapore.

He and Mr Lee witnessed letters exchanged between their officials to launch negotiations to upgrade the bilateral free trade agreement.

Other agreements signed include one to kickstart the third government-to-government project between the two countries, which will be sited in Chongqing in China's western region, and one expanding cooperation between both education ministries.

5. Trip to a Unesco World Heritage Site

The Papilionanda Xi Jinping-Peng Liyuan produces light pink petals with fine red spots.   PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

From the Istana, it was a short ride to the Botanic Gardens, Singapore's first Unesco World Heritage Site. There, Madam Peng joined him as an orchid hybrid was named in their honour.

Papilionanda Xi Jinping-Peng Liyuan produces light pink petals with fine red spots, said NParks.

Mr Lee and his wife Ho Ching hosted Mr Xi and Ms Peng for lunch at the Corner House restaurant in the Gardens.   PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching also hosted them for lunch at the Corner House restaurant in the Gardens.

6. Xi-Ma meeting

Mr Xi (right) and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's minute-long handshake started the meeting on a good note.   ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The lunch concluded the Singapore leg of Mr Xi's visit to the Republic. After a quick pitstop at the Chinese delegation's hotel - St Regis - he arrived at the Shangri-la for the historic meeting with Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou.

It was the first top-level contact between the sides since they split 66 years ago.

A minute-long handshake started the meeting on a good note.

In opening remarks, Mr Xi spoke of how the two sides are "one family" and cannot be pulled apart. Mr Ma had a five-point wishlist for the meeting, including strengthening the 1992 consensus and maintaining cross-strait peace.

The 50-minute meeting was later followed by dinner where both sides went Dutch, and then it was the flight home.