Lianhe Zaobao launches exhibition on Sino-Singapore ties

The exhibition is based on the photo book "In the Founders' Footsteps- 30 years of Singapore-China Diplomatic Relations". PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - An online exhibition depicting how relations between Singapore and China have grown was virtually launched at the Lianhe Zaobao Singapore-China Forum on Thursday (Dec 3).

The exhibition is based on the photo book "In the Founders' Footsteps- 30 years of Singapore-China Diplomatic Relations" that was published by Lianhe Zaobao and ThinkChina on Oct 3.

It follows the late Lee Kuan Yew's visits to China and how Singapore's first Prime Minister laid the foundations for the diplomatic relationship between the two countries.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said at the forum that Sino-Singapore ties have deepened, progressing from collaborations in economic development to governance and social development.

"That shows the strength of our relationship," he said, adding that legal and judicial cooperation is an area that "a country may guard more closely because it relates to how we protect the well-being of our people".

Mr Tong, who was the forum's guest of honour, pointed out that chief justices in both countries have co-chaired an annual roundtable to improve judicial systems and rule of law, since Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Chinese President Xi Jinping identified legal and judicial cooperation as a key area of bilateral cooperation in September 2017.

Mr Tong, who is also Second Minister for Law, said: "Although we have different legal systems - common law system in Singapore and civil law system in China - there are still many commonalities and much we can share and work with one another.

"Both countries believe that a strong legal system underpins an open, inclusive and rules-based multilateral trading system."

Economic integration in the region, however, should still remain a focus for the two countries, said former vice-minister at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs He Yafei in his keynote address.

Professor He said that "continued economic cooperation and regional integration is a sure way to expand markets and promote free trade and investment in the region".

He added: "With geopolitical tensions high between major powers, especially between the United States and China, protectionism surging ahead and global supply chains set to be readjusted, global free trade and investment will meet further headwinds.

"It is high time, therefore, to build regional supply chains to better utilise resources... in the region."

He also urged Asean countries to work together to construct a regional security framework.

"But that security framework should not be purely based on military alliances... but should be based more, or rather, on collective and cooperative security," he added.

Prof He said that the strategy of relying on being "economically close to China but relying on the US for protection is a bad choice and not going to work for this region".

"China has repeatedly demonstrated its determination to peaceful development, and its Belt and Road Initiative and willingness to work out a Code of Conduct on South China Sea should be enough evidence for the region that China is trying its best to build peace in this region," he added.

"We shouldn't use alliances that are leftover from history to target China or other countries. This will create complications. We need to leave alliances behind to build a security framework for the region. Asean can play a critical role in such a future effort," Prof He said.

The two-day forum ends on Friday (Dec 4).

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