30 years of S’pore-China ties: Singapore leaders send congratulatory messages

In a photo from April 29, 2019, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
In a photo from April 29, 2019, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.PHOTO: MCI

President Halimah Yacob, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan have exchanged congratulatory messages with their Chinese counterparts on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries today.

The leaders' letters were released by Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In her letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Halimah noted that the foundations of the relationship were laid decades ago, starting with founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's visits to each other's countries in the 1970s. Diplomatic ties were established on Oct 3, 1990.

Over the past 30 years, the relations between Singapore and China have flourished, marked by close people-to-people ties and substantive cooperation, she wrote. Bilateral cooperation has expanded into new areas, including smart cities, finance, legal and judicial issues, as well as the Belt and Road Initiative.

"I am heartened that even amidst the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic this year, Singapore and China have maintained close and frequent exchanges at all levels, and extended assistance to each other in times of need," she wrote, saying they have opened up new areas of cooperation as they grapple with similar challenges of economic recovery and bolstering trade and connectivity.

In his letter to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, PM Lee wrote that the longstanding bilateral relationship predates the formal establishment of diplomatic ties in 1990, and bilateral cooperation has since grown in depth and scope. He noted that China has been Singapore's largest trading partner and Singapore has been China's largest foreign investor since 2013, and the three government-to-government projects in China in each of the last three decades - in Suzhou, Tianjin and Chongqing - continue to do well today.

He added that people-to-people exchanges have also grown, with more than four million people travelling between both countries in 2018, 40 times the 100,000 travellers in 1990. Both countries have supported each other through the Covid-19 outbreak, and identified new areas of cooperation to propel the relationship forward, he wrote.

PM Lee added that both countries share a strong interest in enhancing Asean-China relations, and upholding free and open trade. "I look forward to working with you to strengthen the multilateral infrastructure that binds our world today, and to bring our bilateral partnership to greater heights."

Writing to Vice-Premier Han Zheng, DPM Heng said Singapore and China enjoy a multi-faceted and mutually beneficial relationship today, underpinned by close cooperation across many domains.

 
 
 

Bilateral exchanges have been institutionalised, with the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) as the apex platform, an important one to review existing areas of cooperation and develop new areas to keep up with the times. The Singapore-China Forum on Leadership, the Singapore-China Social Governance Forum and eight Provincial Business Councils cover other key areas of cooperation.

DPM Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Finance Minister, said: "Through these platforms, we have also built personal relationships that further deepen our bilateral ties. My exchanges with you, including our two telephone conversations amidst the Covid-19 pandemic this year, bear testament to the growing relationship between us and between our countries."

He looks forward to hosting Mr Han and his delegation for the upcoming JCBC this year, and to discuss how they can take relations to greater heights.

 
 

Foreign Minister Balakrishnan, writing to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, said both countries have been committed to facilitating economic recovery by championing cooperation in cross-border and supply chain connectivity, and have found new areas of cooperation in public health management and vaccine research and development.

"As we look back on the achievements in our relations over the short span of 30 years, I am confident that our ties will become even stronger as we embark on the next phase of our partnership," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2020, with the headline 'Singapore leaders send congratulatory messages'. Print Edition | Subscribe