SINGAPORE - China appreciates Singapore's efforts in fostering good relations between major powers like China and the United States, a senior mainland leader has told visiting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Xinjiang party boss Zhang Chunxian, a member of the ruling Chinese Communist Party's 25-member Politburo, also complimented Singapore on its efforts to boost cooperation between China and ASEAN, such as by persuading sceptical member countries to agree to the ASEAN-China free trade pact, which came into effect in 2010.
Mr Zhang told Mr Lee at their meeting on Wednesday: "Without question, relations between big countries today influence global developments deeply. It's thus very rare to be able to 'coordinate' these relations and yet retain your own voice. I'm very happy to see Singapore, using its unique language, strengths and favourable conditions, thanks to its historical background, playing this role. We appreciate your efforts and hope that you will continue doing so."
Mr Lee thanked Mr Zhang for his compliments, noting that Singapore, as a small country, has a keen interest in a stable and prosperous region.
"We believe that this is in the interests of China, ASEAN and the world," Mr Lee said. "And so, we would like to continue our modest influence towards a good outcome for the region so that we can live in a stable, peaceful and prosperous 21st century."
During their 30-minute meeting, Mr Zhang also called on Singapore and Xinjiang to step up cooperation in trade, finance, research and development and social management.
PM Lee is here on a week-long official visit, part of efforts to foster cooperation with China's less developed parts. Earlier in the day, he visited a museum in Shihezi city, 150km from Urumqi, and the Xinjiang Tianye Petrochemicals Group, one of the region's largest state-owned enterprises.
He will go to north-eastern Shenyang city in Liaoning province tonight.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.