S'pore, China set to sign high-level deals

Chinese President Xi Jinping prepares to address guests and delegates at the UK-China Business Summit in London.
Chinese President Xi Jinping prepares to address guests and delegates at the UK-China Business Summit in London.PHOTO: AFP

High-level agreements between Singapore and China, such as the start of a third government-led project to modernise connectivity as well as negotiations to upgrade the bilateral free trade agreement, are set to be signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit here this week.

China's Ambassador to Singapore Chen Xiaodong gave reporters a preview of Mr Xi's visit yesterday, noting that it will be short but packed.

At the top of the agenda is the signing of the agreement to kickstart Singapore's third project in China, after the 1994 Suzhou Industrial Park and the 2008 Tianjin Eco-City. The bilateral project will be on the theme of "modern connectivity and modern services" and will be sited somewhere in China's western region. Although its exact contours and location have yet to be publicly announced, both sides are set to pick at least one city among Chongqing, Chengdu and Xi'an to host the new project.

Mr Chen said the project would have a positive effect on Beijing's plan to develop the vast western region as well as help realise Mr Xi's initiative to revive the Silk Road trading belt that winds through Central and South-east Asia.

As for the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, which was signed in 2008, Mr Chen said both countries' leaders intend to "jointly send a strong signal to upgrade the agreement" to keep up with the development of their economies.

Other agreements to be signed include efforts to promote the Silk Road vision, as well as exchanges in education, customs, finance and urban management, said Mr Chen.

There are also plans to announce a new direction in bilateral ties to mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations, he added.

Mr Xi's visit to mark the anniversary is part of an exchange of presidential visits; President Tony Tan Keng Yam visited Beijing and Tianjin in July.

Mr Xi will arrive here on Friday afternoon and depart on Saturday afternoon, accompanied by his wife Peng Liyuan.

Besides a state banquet in Mr Xi's honour, the Chinese leader and his wife will also have an orchid named after them at the Botanic Gardens, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching will host a private lunch for them. During his visit, Mr Xi will also officiate, with Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, at the opening of the China Cultural Centre in Queen Street.

Ambassador Chen noted that it is Mr Xi's first official visit to Singapore as China's President, as well as the first state visit hosted by the new Singapore Government elected in the September General Election.

"At this historic moment, Mr Xi's visit is a meaningful one that will inject new momentum and open a new chapter for the Sino-Singapore relationship," he said. "I'm heartened to feel the attention and anticipation paid by the Singapore Government and people to the visit."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2015, with the headline 'S'pore, China set to sign high-level deals'. Print Edition | Subscribe