BEIJING - China's top leader Xi Jinping, declaring ties with Singapore to be "in excellent shape", proposed three new ways to take bilateral relations to a new high at his meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
One of the ways would be to "fully utilise" the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), a top bilateral body overseeing political ties and collaboration between the two countries.
China recently appointed its seventh-ranked leader Zhang Gaoli to the JCBC, which he co-chairs with Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.
The move marked the first time that a member of China's top decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee, was named to the JCBC. The previous Chinese co-chairs were ranked lower than Mr Zhang.
PM Lee told the Singapore media: "Both of us are taking it very seriously and I think the JCBC has a clear mandate to work not just on existing areas but also new areas of cooperation."
President Xi gave two other suggestions on how bilateral relations could be improved - first by replicating the success of Sino-Singapore projects like the Suzhou Industrial Park elsewhere in China, and second, by broadening mutual cooperation in new areas such as environmental sustainability.
"China-Singapore relations have been in excellent shape," Mr Xi, who took office in March this year, told Mr Lee at their meeting yesterday at the Great Hall of the People.
The Chinese leader added: "I believe that our two sides should continue to work together to build on our past successes and open up new dimensions for the future.
"We need to further deepen political trust, enhance pragmatic cooperation and raise our bilateral relationship to a higher level, given the new historical starting point."