CHINA - The prospects for cooperation between Xinjiang and Singapore are good, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told Xinjiang Party Secretary Zhang Chunxian on Wednesday.
"We have every reason to be confident and optimistic about what we can do together," he said to Mr Zhang last night.
The Prime Minister is in China for an official week-long visit that includes both the province of Xinjiang in China's extreme west and Liaoning province in its north-east.
Mr Zhang noted that last year, the trade volume between Xinjiang and Singapore spiked 200 per cent, albeit this growth was from a small base.
Over the same period, Singapore's exports to Xinjiang grew 80 per cent.
In the first six months of this year, trade was up 120 per cent; Singapore's exports to Xinjiang were up 25 per cent.
Mr Zhang said: "Although the trade volume is not the most important aspect of Singapore-Xinjiang relations, we are very happy to see the increase."
Xinjiang sits on a wealth of natural resources, including 30 per cent of China's national oil reserves, 34 per cent of the nation's natural gas and 40 per cent of its coal.
Its smallest district, Urumqi, is 20 times Singapore's size.
Since 2010, the growth in gross domestic product (GDP) for Xinjiang has been above 10 per cent. Last year, the province posted 12 per cent growth in GDP and up till June this year, GDP growth was at 10.5 per cent.
Mr Zhang lauded Singapore's role in international relations, especially where coordinating relationships between countries such as China and the United States was concerned.
"It is very important to coordinate these relations and yet retain your own voice," he said. "We appreciate your effort and hope you continue to play this role."
In turn, Mr Lee reiterated Singapore's interest in a stable and prosperous region.
"We believe that this is in the interest of China, the region and the world," he said. "So, we would like to continue our modest influence towards a good outcome for the region . . . In this context, we would like to work together with China and Xinjiang and deepen our relations."
On Wednesday, Mr Lee also visited the city of Shihezi in Xinjiang, where he was received by Che Jun, who helms the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, at the Shihezi Guesthouse.
On Thursday, Mr Lee flew to Kashgar, another city in Xinjiang, before leaving for Liaoning province.
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