Chinese leader tours heartland facilities

Chinese leader tours heartland facilities
Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli holding 2 1/2-year-old Song Yiya as the child's grandmother Liu Yixia (in red) looked on at Anchorvale Community Centre. Mr Zhang, who was here on a three-day official visit, applauded Singapore for having facilities where people of all ages could gather.

A HANDFUL of Chinese nationals - with toddlers in tow - turned up early at Anchorvale Community Centre on Wednesday, hoping to catch a glimpse of visiting Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli.

They did not go home disappointed.

Before the Chinese leader began his tour of the community centre, he chatted briefly with the women and posed for pictures, even obliging Ms Liu Yixia, 59, who urged him to hold her 2 1/2-year-old grandson.

Another Chinese national who turned up was Ms Cheng Kai, 62, a retiree looking after her grandchild in Singapore. "In China, I would have never got a chance to meet him," she said.

After the impromptu meet-and-greet, Mr Zhang was given a quick briefing on the People's Association, the community centre and adjoining park. He also dropped in on a kindergarten class and a taiji session.

Part of the reason for the tour was to show him Singapore's community facilities and its efforts at sustainable development. Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan accompanied Mr Zhang on the tour.

The Chinese leader applauded Singapore for having facilities where people of all ages could gather, noting that many facilities in China tended to focus on activities for specific age groups.

Wednesday was the last day of what has been a busy three-day official visit for the Chinese leader.

On Tuesday, he and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean co-chaired a series of meetings concluding with a raft of agreements between the two sides.

Some of the biggest announcements were made in the area of financial cooperation, where Singapore and China agreed to start trading directly in each other's currencies and a move was made to include Singapore in a programme that would allow financial institutions here to invest up to 50 billion yuan (S$10.2 billion) directly in the Chinese securities market.

During his trip, Mr Zhang also called on President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

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