SINGAPORE- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong begins a week-long visit today to southern China, which includes manufacturing powerhouse Guangdong and neighbouring Guangxi, followed by a stop in Hong Kong.
The visit to Guangdong - Singapore's top provincial trading partner last year - is his first since 2006.
Over the next few days, Mr Lee will meet Chinese political leaders such as Executive Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun Ying and Guangdong party boss Hu Chunhua. Mr Hu, 51, is widely touted as a future top leader.
Mr Lee will visit the 11th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, the capital of Guangxi region, and deliver the keynote address at the opening ceremony next Tuesday. Singapore is the annual trade fair's "country of honour" this year. Mr Lee will also attend a roundtable dialogue with Chinese business leaders, a Prime Minister's Office statement said yesterday.
While in Guangdong province, Mr Lee will stop by the Guangzhou Knowledge City, a private-sector-led, government-backed Sino-Singapore project that aims to be a model of economic upgrading for China.
He will also visit Shenzhen, the pioneer site of China's economic transformation.
Singapore and Guangdong enjoy excellent economic relations.
Last year, their bilateral trade reached $115.2 billion, or nearly a quarter of Singapore's total trade with China. In the first half of this year, Singapore's cumulative foreign investment in Guangdong was US$9.7 billion (S$12.2 billion).
Similarly, Singapore's economic ties with Guangxi and Hong Kong have been on a steady uptrend.
Mr Lee is accompanied by his wife Ho Ching. Joining him at different stages of the trip are Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew; Second Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu; and former deputy prime minister Wong Kan Seng, who is a special adviser for economic cooperation to the Prime Minister.
Others in the delegation are Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Lee Yi Shyan, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office and for Culture, Community and Youth Sam Tan, as well as senior officials.
In Mr Lee's absence, Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang will be Acting Prime Minister until Saturday, and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, from Sunday to next Thursday.
This article was first published on 11/09, 2014.
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