SINGAPORE - The third Singapore-China government-led project will be based in Chongqing, Chinese President Xi Jinping said at a state banquet at the Istana on Friday (Nov 6).
"During my visit, the two sides will officially launch the third project based in Chongqing," Mr Xi said.
The bilateral project will be on the theme of "modern connectivity and modern services", and could help lower the cost of doing business in China's western region.
Singapore and China will sign an agreement on Saturday (Nov 7) to kickstart the project, which is a highlight of Mr Xi's two-day state visit to Singapore.
The other two cities in contention for the project in western China were Chengdu and Xi'an.
A city of 30 million, Chongqing is one of four municipalities under the direct control of China's central government.
In proposals seen earlier this year, the south-western city has set aside an area of 20 sq km for the collaboration, with the Longsheng district of about 10 sq km designated the core area.
The initiatives planned for the project include an integrated logistics centre comprising an aviation and port logistics hub; a China-Singapore modern services demonstration zone where Singapore firms can provide legal and accounting services among others; and a smart city featuring a special administrative zone for cloud computing and big data sectors.
Chinese Ambassador to Singapore Chen Xiaodong had said earlier that the project would have a positive effect on the Chinese government's plan to develop its vast western region.
More exciting chapters in Sino-Singapore ties: Xi
Mr Xi, who arrived on Friday evening for his first state visit to Singapore, said that the two existing government-to-government projects are progressing well.
The Chongqing project follows in the footsteps of the 1994 Suzhou Industrial Park and the 2008 Tianjin Eco-City.
In his Mandarin speech at the state banquet, he congratulated Singapore on the nation's 50th birthday, and said bilateral ties have reached a "new historical point".
"We will write more new and exciting chapters in Sino-Singapore relations," he told the Chinese and Singapore officials and guests attending the banquet.
At the banquet, Mr Xi and President Tony Tan Keng Yam led a toast to 25 years of formal diplomatic relations.
Cooperation beyond traditional areas: Tony Tan
Speaking before Mr Xi, Dr Tan said what both countries share is a unique bilateral relationship built on wide-ranging cooperation that evolves with the times.
He said: "Over the years, bilateral cooperation has moved beyond the traditional areas of trade and commerce to new areas such as social governance, human resource cooperation, sustainable development, financial cooperation and food safety."
He also spoke about China's rapid development over the past three decades.
"Today, Your Excellency is leading the Chinese people into a new era of progress and prosperity," he said. "This is a remarkable endeavour and I am confident that China will continue to succeed under your leadership."
In a meeting before the banquet, the two leaders affirmed the close, substantive and multi-faceted relations between the two sides.
They agreed to launch negotiations on the upgrade of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and to conclude the negotiations by 2016, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Friday.
New strategic framework for bilateral ties
They also agreed to establish a new strategic framework aimed at deepening ties and cooperation.
More details of the new framework - called "all-round cooperative partnership progressing with the times" - are expected to be announced soon. It is believed to be the first of its kind among the 50-plus partnerships of various titles China has with other states.
Both leaders also discussed strengthening cooperation in areas such as finance, culture, social governance, education, environmental protection, and people-to-people relations.
Earlier on Friday evening, Mr Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan arrived at Singapore from Vietnam where the Chinese leader concluded a two-day trip.
They were welcomed by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and his wife at the VIP Complex at Changi Airport.
From the airport, they headed to the Istana for an official welcome ceremony.
Welcome ceremony at the Istana
Mr Xi was welcomed by a guard of honour, and he stood at attention with Dr Tan in front of the Istana as Singapore's national anthem was played.
After inspecting the guard of honour, Mr Xi paid a courtesy call on Dr Tan, while Mrs Mary Tan separately hosted Madam Peng to tea.
Mr Xi's trip is part of celebrations this year by both sides to mark close bilateral ties and cooperation since diplomatic relations were formalised on Oct 3, 1990. Dr Tan visited Beijing and Tianjin in July.
The state banquet, featuring local favourites such as chilli crab and bak kut teh, was held in honour of Mr Xi, Madam Peng and their delegation. Chinese officials in the delegation include policy research head Wang Huning, general office head Li Zhanshu and State Councillor Yang Jiechi, and Chongqing mayor Huang Qifan.
On Saturday, Singapore and China will sign agreements related to the Chongqing project, as well as deals in areas such as education, urban management and collaboration between the two Customs.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Mr Xi will both witness the signing ceremony.
Mr Xi and his wife will also visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens where an orchid hybrid "Papilionanda" will be named in their honour. PM Lee and his wife Ho Ching will host them to a private lunch.
During his visit, Mr Xi will deliver the 36th Singapore Lecture at the National University of Singapore.
Along with Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Mr Xi will also officially open the China Cultural Centre located in Queen Street on Saturday morning.
The two leaders had attended its ground-breaking ceremony in 2010 when Mr Xi visited Singapore as vice-president to mark the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties.