S'pore leaders send messages as China marks 69th national day

A military honour guard at Beijing's Tiananmen Square during a ceremony yesterday, on the eve of China's national day, when Chinese leaders honoured those who lost their lives serving the country and laid wreaths at the Monument to the People's Heroe
A military honour guard at Beijing's Tiananmen Square during a ceremony yesterday, on the eve of China's national day, when Chinese leaders honoured those who lost their lives serving the country and laid wreaths at the Monument to the People's Heroes.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Chinese President Xi Jinping and leaders of the ruling Communist Party gathered at a reception yesterday by the State Council to mark the 69th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

China officially celebrates its national day today, and Singapore's President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong are among the world leaders who have written to Chinese leaders to convey congratulatory messages.

Both Madam Halimah and Mr Lee reaffirmed Singapore's strong ties with China and emphasised Singapore's commitment to free trade.

In her letter to Mr Xi, President Halimah said that China's commitment to the path of economic growth and liberalisation amid global uncertainties will not only contribute to China's future progress, but also boost global trade and development.

China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which enhances connectivity and linkages, has also reached a five-year milestone this year, said Madam Halimah. The initiative "has promoted the spirit of common prosperity and brought countries closer together", she added.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the opening up of China.

Noting that Singapore-China relations are excellent and have evolved over time, Madam Halimah said: "Over the years, the cooperation between our two countries has grown beyond the traditional areas of trade and investment to cover new areas, including the Belt and Road Initiative, finance, and legal and judicial issues."

She said the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Initiative, which includes the Southern Transport Corridor, has added further impetus to the two countries' BRI cooperation by linking the "belt" and the "road", as well as strengthening connectivity between China and Asean.

As Asean chair this year, "Singapore will continue to work with our dialogue partners, including China, and enhance cooperation to build a resilient and innovative Asean", said Madam Halimah.

"We are working together on a substantive and mutually beneficial Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Together, we can send a strong signal of our joint commitment to free trade and a rules-based multilateral trading system."

In his letter to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, PM Lee said that amid "an increasingly uncertain global environment and growing protectionism, China's continued support for trade liberalisation and economic integration will benefit China and the global economy".

Noting Singapore's strong and multifaceted relations with China, Mr Lee said that since the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's visit to Singapore 40 years ago, cooperation between both countries has broadened and deepened immensely. "Besides our three government-to-government projects, we are expanding cooperation in new areas such as innovation and technology, sustainable development, financial services, and legal and judicial cooperation," Mr Lee said.

"Our cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative has progressed well and now spans infrastructure connectivity, financial connectivity, third-party cooperation and training, and professional services," he added.

As the Asean-China coordinator for the last three years, Singapore has worked with China and other Asean members to foster Asean-China ties. "We look forward to celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Asean-China Strategic Partnership and setting the Asean-China 2030 Vision Statement at the Asean Summit in Singapore this year," he said.

Singapore and China have also worked closely to advance their shared interest in promoting free and open trade.

Mr Lee said Singapore looks forward to an early conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and a substantial upgrade of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement during Mr Li's official visit to Singapore next month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2018, with the headline 'S'pore leaders send messages as China marks 69th national day'. Print Edition | Subscribe