S'pore leaders wish China well on 68th anniversary

President and PM underline close bilateral cooperation in letters to Chinese counterparts

President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have conveyed their best wishes to China on the 68th anniversary of the country's founding, in letters to their Chinese counterparts, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

The Singaporean leaders underlined the close cooperation between the two countries on China's Belt and Road Initiative, and said Singapore would promote cooperation between Asean and Beijing as the incoming chair of the bloc.

According to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs press statement, President Halimah told President Xi: "Over the past decades, China's peaceful development has uplifted the lives of the Chinese people, and contributed much to the stability and prosperity of our region and the world. I am confident that under your leadership, China will enjoy continued peace and prosperity."

She underlined the longstanding and friendly relations between Singapore and China.

"Our cooperation covers a wide range of areas including trade and investment, financial services, human resource development, social governance, sustainable development and defence. We are advancing towards the substantive upgrade of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement," wrote President Halimah.

She noted that two government-to-government projects, the Suzhou Industrial Park and the Tianjin Eco-city, are successful, and a third - the Sino-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Initiative - has seen good progress and is starting to contribute to the Belt and Road Initiative, Yangtze River Economic Belt and Western Region Development initiatives championed by the Chinese government.

" In support of closer cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative, we established three bilateral platforms for infrastructure connectivity, financial connectivity and support, and third-party cooperation, including the joint training of officials from Belt and Road countries," noted President Halimah.

She also drew attention to the establishment of a Judicial and Legal Roundtable by judiciaries of the two countries to facilitate closer cooperation and sharing, including to support the Belt and Road Initiative.

"I am confident that the successful implementation of these initiatives would raise our partnership to a new high point," she wrote.

She wished the People's Republic of China continued peace and prosperity and conveyed her husband's and her wishes of good health and success for Mr Xi and his wife, Madam Peng Liyuan.

In his congratulatory message, Prime Minister Lee said China has made remarkable progress over the last few decades, and a vibrant and prosperous China has greatly benefited its people and also contributed to the growth and development of the region and the world.

He recalled his recent official visit to China at Mr Li's invitation, where both sides reaffirmed the substantial progress made in building an "all round cooperative partnership progressing with the times".

"To enhance our bilateral cooperation, our officials are working hard towards the expeditious conclusion of a substantive upgrade of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement," he said. He also highlighted the progress made on the Sino-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Initiative, and other Belt and Road cooperation.

Mr Lee underscored the significant improvement in Asean-China relations over the past year, with the implementation of several economic initiatives and constructive confidence-building measures.

He said that as the country coordinator for Asean-China dialogue relations and the incoming Asean chair, Singapore will continue to play a constructive role to promote cooperation between the bloc and China.

The Prime Minister concluded his letter by expressing hope that he and his wife would be able to host Mr Li and his wife, Madam Cheng Hong, on an official visit to Singapore at the earliest mutually convenient time.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 01, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore leaders wish China well on 68th anniversary'. Print Edition | Subscribe