China Vice-Premier calls on President Halimah, PM Lee

Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng meeting President Halimah Yacob (above) and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) at the Istana yesterday. The three leaders said they look forward to the conclusion of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement negotiat
Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng meeting President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) at the Istana yesterday. The three leaders said they look forward to the conclusion of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement negotiations by November.ST PHOTS: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng meeting President Halimah Yacob (above) and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) at the Istana yesterday. The three leaders said they look forward to the conclusion of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement negotiat
Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng meeting President Halimah Yacob (right) and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana yesterday. The three leaders said they look forward to the conclusion of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement negotiations by November.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

The leaders reaffirm Sino-Singapore ties and discuss bilateral cooperation

Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng called on President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana yesterday, before wrapping up his three-day visit to Singapore.

Mr Han, who is among the seven top leaders of China's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, was here to attend the annual Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) meeting. It is the highest-level platform for leaders to meet and chart the course of cooperation between China and Singapore.

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said President Halimah and Mr Han reaffirmed the longstanding and multifaceted relations between the two countries, which enjoy strong economic and people-to-people ties, as well as regular high-level exchanges.

They also discussed the JCBC meeting, co-chaired by Mr Han and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Thursday, growing cooperation under China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as well as international and regional developments such as Sino-US relations and Asean-China cooperation.

Mr Han and PM Lee also took stock of Singapore-China relations and discussed the progress made in bilateral cooperation. The statement said the two leaders supported the proposal to enhance legal and judicial cooperation under the BRI.

The China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) upgrade also came up during the discussions. President Halimah, PM Lee and Mr Han said they look forward to the conclusion of the FTA negotiations by the time Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits Singapore in November for the Asean Summit.

Negotiations on a revised FTA started in November 2015. Singapore was the first Asian country to have a comprehensive bilateral free trade deal with China in 2009.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2018, with the headline 'China Vice-Premier calls on President, PM'. Print Edition | Subscribe