BEIJING: Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean met Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng on Friday (Jun 29), as part of a nine-day visit to China, with both men reaffirming the “longstanding, strong and substantive relations” between the two countries.
The two leaders met in Beijing at the Great Hall of the People and had a broad discussion on the “extensive bilateral cooperation” between Singapore and China, according to Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
This includes the “good progress” made on the three Government-to-Government projects – the Suzhou Industrial Park, Tianjin Eco-City and Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI).
They also welcomed the positive momentum of cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative – especially through the development of the CCI-Southern Transport Corridor. This has improved connectivity between Western China, Singapore and beyond through land and sea links.
MFA said both men also looked forward to the conclusion of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement upgrade this year and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade pact as soon as possible.
The ministry noted that this would send a strong signal of Singapore and China’s joint commitment to free trade.
Mr Teo and Mr Han co-chair the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation, or JCBC – the highest level bilateral forum between the two countries.
Both men reaffirmed the JCBC as a key platform to guide the future direction of cooperation and said they looked forward to the 14th edition in Singapore in September.
The meeting has been held annually since 2004, except for a one-year hiatus in 2016.
Mr Han has taken over as co-chair, succeeding former vice premier Zhang Gaoli after he retired from politics last year.
“The JCBC has been an important platform for 14, 15 years to strengthen bilateral cooperation between China and Singapore,” Mr Teo told Mr Han at the start of their meeting, with the media present.
“I would like to take the opportunity to have a discussion with you, hearing your views on how we can take this cooperation forward and how we can shape the agenda of the JCBC and bring this cooperation to new heights.”
The two leaders last met three years ago in Shanghai, when Mr Han was the then Shanghai Party Secretary.
“How time flies, three years have passed, at that time we had a very cordial meeting and raised some cooperation projects between the two countries,” said Mr Han in remarks to Mr Teo.
“From that conversation, I could tell how much importance you attached to growing relations with China.”
DPM Teo will also visit Tianjin, Guangxi, Chongqing and Gansu on his trip.