S'pore, China ink slew of pacts to bolster bilateral ties

Putting their new pledge to build an all-round partnership into action, Singapore and China inked several crucial pacts and agreed to explore several areas of co-operation to create opportunities for their people and businesses.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday. Both witnessed the signing of two agreements to launch talks for the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA) upgrade, and to start a new government-led project in south-western Chongqing city.

In a Facebook post, PM Lee said he had a fruitful meeting with Mr Xi, whose two-day state visit, he added, "further deepened the bilateral relationship".

Citing how the pacts will "open up more opportunities for mutual exchange, trade, investments and development", Mr Lee wrote: "China's dramatic progress is positive for the region and the world."

Another six agreements on areas such as education co-operation, urban management and collaboration between the two Customs authorities were also inked.

A key highlight of Mr Xi's visit here to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations was the setting up of an "All-Round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times".

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) statement said Mr Lee and Mr Xi agreed to issue a joint statement on the partnership "to define the forward-looking, innovative, and multifaceted nature of our bilateral ties". The joint statement listed 19 areas of consensus, such as fully tapping existing inter-governmental co-operation mechanisms like the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation chaired by the two countries' deputy prime ministers.

Both sides also agreed to further develop the two flagship government-led projects - Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-city - as they voiced strong support for the latest one, the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity.

"Both countries are fully committed to and shall provide full support for the success of the initiative," said the joint statement.

Deeper collaboration is also envisaged in areas such as transport, infocommunications, social governance, leadership training, science and innovation, culture, environmental and water protection, agriculture, food safety, customs, law enforcement and education.

Both sides also agreed to strengthen consultation and co-operation on regional and global issues, and also on issues of common interest through mechanisms such as the United Nations, World Trade Organisation and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Leaving room for even greater co-operation, the two sides noted that the present statement "does not preclude other areas of co-operation" that may emerge in the future.

A key factor for the development of Sino-Singapore ties is their young people, who need to understand the culture and history of both countries, and foster deeper friendship, Mr Xi said when he delivered the 36th Singapore Lecture at the National University of Singapore yesterday. Earlier in the day, Mr Xi, together with Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, opened the 11-storey China Cultural Centre in Queen Street. He and his wife Peng Liyuan later visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where a tall orchid was named after them.

The MFA statement also said that Mr Lee accepted Mr Xi's invitation to Singapore to take part in the G-20 meetings and G-20 Summit to be held in China next year.

This article was first published on Nov 8, 2015.
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