DPM Heng to co-chair high-level forum in China

A photo taken on Oct 10 shows Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat during the Institution of Engineers, Singapore's annual dinner.
A photo taken on Oct 10 shows Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat during the Institution of Engineers, Singapore's annual dinner.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Annual bilateral meeting an opportunity to review areas of cooperation, launch new ones

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat will co-chair the 15th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) with Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng during a four-day visit to China that kicks off today.

The visit, which will see him travel to Chongqing, Tianjin and Beijing on the invitation of Mr Han, is of particular significance as this is the first time Mr Heng will co-chair the JCBC meeting, the highest-level annual forum between China and Singapore.

The meeting also takes place at an important juncture, said Mr Heng, as it comes on the eve of Singapore and China celebrating 30 years of diplomatic relations next year.

In an opinion piece he wrote for Lianhe Zaobao, Mr Heng, who is also Minister for Finance, said the JCBC platform attests to both countries' shared commitment to an open and mutually beneficial cooperation built by successive generations of Singaporean and Chinese leaders.

The forum is also an opportunity to review existing areas of bilateral cooperation and launch new ones, and Mr Heng said he would focus on three themes in the upcoming meeting.

The first is to strengthen the foundations of cooperation, by updating existing projects to meet evolving needs while paving the way for the next generation of leaders to deepen their bilateral friendship.

During the trip, Mr Heng and Mr Han will co-chair meetings on three Singapore-China government-to-government projects. They will review the progress made on these flagship projects and discuss the future direction of cooperation, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement yesterday.

The second theme is that the JCBC should also scale new peaks, he added, by harnessing new areas of cooperation for the future.

The promising areas of cooperation that Mr Heng identified include the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, where Singapore is looking forward to partner Shenzhen to establish a Smart City Initiative.

His final theme is on how Singapore and China can expand the horizons of bilateral cooperation beyond each other's shores to third countries, he said, leveraging the Republic's strengths as a financial hub and centre for dispute resolution. "By strengthening our foundations, scaling new peaks and expanding the horizons of our cooperation, we can build a better future for our peoples," he said.

He will be hosted to lunch by Mr Han, and the two leaders will jointly officiate the opening of the CCI Gallery at Raffles City Chongqing in Chaotianmen.

Mr Heng will also be hosted to dinner by Politburo member and Chongqing party secretary Chen Min'er.

The minister will visit Guoyuan Port, the Multi-Modal Distribution and Connectivity Centre Gallery, Feixiang IIOT (a joint venture between Alibaba Cloud and Chongqing Nan'an District), and meet officials who participated in study visits and programmes in Singapore.

After Chongqing, he will visit Tianjin on Wednesday, where he will meet and be hosted to dinner by Politburo member and Tianjin party secretary Li Hongzhong.

On the final day of his visit on Thursday, he will meet Chinese leaders in Beijing, said the PMO.

Government officials accompanying him on the trip include Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo, and Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2019, with the headline 'DPM Heng to co-chair high-level forum in China'. Print Edition | Subscribe