MANILA: The Singapore-China relationship is in "good working order", said Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan on Sunday (Aug 6).
Speaking to Singapore media after a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, which took place on the sidelines of ASEAN meetings in Manila, Dr Balakrishnan said that while there may be differences, both countries have not allowed this to affect the “overall tone of the relationship”.
More importantly, this has not affected business flows or deals, and future opportunities, he added.
“We need to get used to this kind of to-ing and fro-ing ... As I told Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the challenges that we’ve had in the last one or two years are actually part of a maturation process in our relationship,” said Dr Balakrishnan.
“How we handle the differences is more important than the differences themselves - to be able to overcome them and not let them become an insurmountable hurdle. More importantly, each time we resolve something it helps build trust. It helps strengthen the relationship.”
This progress has also set the stage for Singapore to fulfil its agenda as ASEAN chairman next year, added Dr Balakrishnan.
Also speaking to reporters, Mr Wang said the meeting went “very well”.
“We commend Singapore, as the China-ASEAN coordinator, for playing a positive and constructive role in advancing relations,” he said.
He noted that Singapore will take over the ASEAN chairmanship next year, while continuing its role as coordinator between ASEAN and China.
Singapore’s three-year term as country coordinator began in 2015, taking over from Thailand.
“We wish Singapore well in these two roles,” added Mr Wang. "In the process of further improving China-ASEAN relations, Singapore can play a special and positive role."
This is believed to be the fifth formal meeting between the two ministers this year. They last met during the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany in July, with the Singapore delegation led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the Chinese delegation led by President Xi Jinping.