Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng to visit Singapore for key annual meeting with DPM Heng

Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng (left) and DPM Heng Swee Keat will co-chair the 18th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation. PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng will visit Singapore on Tuesday for an annual top-level meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

The two leaders will co-chair the 18th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) – the apex forum between the two countries to review existing collaboration and chart future cooperation.

This will be the first such in-person meeting since the Covid-19 pandemic, after the last two editions were held via teleconference. Mr Han will be the most senior Chinese leader to visit Singapore since the pandemic began.

Mr Heng will also hold a bilateral meeting with Mr Han and host him to dinner, said the Prime Minister’s Office.

During his two-day visit, Mr Han is scheduled to call on President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and have separate meetings with Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean and Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.

The two sides will also hold other meetings to take stock of progress made on three flagship government-to-government projects – Suzhou Industrial Park, Tianjin Eco-city and Chongqing Connectivity Initiative – and discuss ways to further develop them.

Singapore and China take turns to host the JCBC. First held in 2004, it is the highest-level forum for deepening ties between the two countries.

Fourteen deals were signed at the last meeting in December 2021, along the themes of sustainability, digitalisation and people-to-people exchanges.

In a commentary published in The Straits Times on Monday, Mr Heng said Mr Han’s visit is an opportunity for both countries to reinvigorate cooperation and discuss future plans in an increasingly uncertain global environment.

This year’s meeting takes place at a crucial moment for both countries, given that China had recently concluded its 20th Party Congress that lays out the blueprint for China’s development in the coming years, and Singapore looks forward to partnering China to strengthen recovery from the pandemic and seize new opportunities, he said.

Officials have been working to advance cooperation on the digital economy and green economy since PM Lee and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed in October 2021 to strengthen collaboration in these emerging areas, he added.

New initiatives to further bilateral cooperation will be launched at the upcoming JCBC, said Mr Heng.

Singapore and China maintain longstanding and substantive ties. Recent high-level exchanges include Madam Halimah’s visit to Beijing for the Winter Olympics in February, and Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe’s visit to Singapore for the Shangri-La Dialogue in June.

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