Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli will visit Singapore from Oct 12 to Oct 14 and chair the 12th China-Singapore Joint Steering Council for Bilateral Cooperation, a high-level institutional mechanism for comprehensive planning of bilateral cooperation in various areas. The two sides will seek this opportunity to enhance practical cooperation for strategic development.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Singapore in 1990, the two countries have increasingly deepened mutual political trust with frequent visits between top leaders.
Singapore’s President Tony Tan Keng Yam visited China in July this year. President Xi Jinping and Tan, during Tan’s China tour, exchanged views on further promoting bilateral relations and practical cooperation.
In August, Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao visited Singapore, attending the celebration of the country’s 50th anniversary of independence. Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli’s three-day visit in Singapore is the first one by a Chinese leader since the formation of the new Singaporean cabinet in late September.
Communication is not limited in the top high level, China and Singapore also share wide range of cooperation. During all these years, economic cooperation has always been the ballast stone and the propeller of bilateral relations.
With solid foundation, the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park and the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City have become two flagship projects between the two governments to promote cooperation in high-tech industries and sustainable development, setting the models of bilateral cooperation.
China and Singapore have also deepened cooperation in the areas such as trade, finance, tourism, science and technology, education, environmental protection and human resources.
“Singapore is willing to enhance cooperation with China,” said Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the closing plenary of FutureChina Global Forum in July 2015.
The two countries are working together for the third government-to-government project, which fits in China’s national strategies, such as the Belt and Road Initiative and Western Region Development drive. This third bilateral project will be forward-looking and pace-setting, with distinctive features on geographical scope, planning concepts and cooperation models.
Chen Gang, research fellow at the East Asian Institute (EAI), National University of Singapore, told Xinhua that China-Singapore relations are facing new opportunities when the diplomatic ties between the two countries have been established for 25 years. Cooperation between the two countries goes well beyond bilateral level, and will certainly enhance in the background that China has come up with the Belt and Road Initiative.
The reason why Singapore welcomes the Belt and Road Initiative is that the city state needs thrust for economic development, and the initiative may bring huge opportunities, said Gu Qingyang, Associate Professor of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of National University of Singapore.
Long Yongtu, former vice-minister of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, hold the view that Singapore’s role in the Belt and Road Initiative is quite important.
As the shipping center, aviation hub and financial magnet in Southeast Asia, Singapore’s position will be anchored when infrastructure in many other countries are getting improved, and the city state will become the center of finance, trade and logistics in a broader economic cooperative zone.
Meanwhile, Long also thought Singapore has the advantage in policy communication, as many experts on Asian studies and international issues are gathering here in Singapore.
“Under President Xi’s leadership, China may propel a new model of bilateral relations with Singapore. In the new model of China-Singapore relations, Singapore will engage more deeply in the process of China’s economic development,” said Chen Gang.
With advantages in location, finance and services, Singapore can participate in global cooperation on production capacity which China is working with many developing countries, and explore tripartite or multilateral cooperation as well as promote common development in the region.
Chinese Ambassador to Singapore Chen Xiaodong told Singapore’s leading Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao that China-Singapore relations have made great progress since the two countries built diplomatic relations 25 years ago. The two sides are working in joint efforts to upgrade the bilateral relations to a new high by enhancing political mutual trust, creating new engines for practical cooperation and deepening cultural exchanges.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also expressed confidence in the outlook of China-Singapore relations when he visited Singapore in August 2015. Wang said this year marks the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Singapore, new opportunities have emerged in the development of bilateral ties. As Singapore becomes the coordinator of China-ASEAN relations this year, China-Singapore relations, and China-ASEAN relations will move smoothly with fresh opportunities for development.