SINGAPORE: Singapore leaders on Friday (Jul 1) congratulated China and Hong Kong on the 25th anniversary of the city's handover from Britain.
In a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Hong Kong has benefitted from and contributed to mainland China’s growth and development under the One Country, Two Systems framework, and that he is confident the city will continue to thrive with the support of the central government.
He also said that Singapore and Hong Kong "enjoy close and multi-faceted relations", while also sharing "extensive and substantial ties" with China.
"This close partnership between Singapore and China has kept pace with the times," said Mr Lee in his letter. "Our cooperation is continually progressing, including on Government-to-Government and state-level projects," he added.
He cited how Singapore has supported China’s regional development strategies, including the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), adding that joint projects such as the China-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City and Singapore-China (Shenzhen) Smart City Initiative will contribute to knowledge and innovation-based growth in the GBA.
"I am confident that Singapore and China will maintain the strong momentum in our bilateral relations. Singapore looks forward to continue working with Hong Kong to create new opportunities for our peoples and enhance the vibrancy of our region," said Mr Lee.
Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule on Jul 1, 1997, under a One Country, Two Systems model of governance, with Beijing promising wide-ranging autonomy, unfettered individual rights and judicial independence at least until 2047.
Xi, who was in Hong Kong on Friday for the handover celebrations, said the One Country, Two Systems formula has been successful under China's "comprehensive jurisdiction", and that there was no need to change it.
On his trip, Xi also swore in the city's new Chief Executive, John Lee.
In a letter to Lee on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat wished him every success in "leading Hong Kong to greater heights" and said he looked forward to meeting Lee.
He wrote that Hong Kong has "long exemplified the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation", and is known for its "indomitable perseverance in the face of difficulty".
"We have seen this in the past 25 years, as time and again, Hong Kong has managed to overcome the challenges before it, and emerge stronger and more resilient," said Mr Heng.
"I have no doubt that under your leadership as chief executive, and with the continued strong support of the central government, Hong Kong will enjoy peace, stability, and prosperity, with One Country, Two Systems as its guiding framework."
He added that Singapore looks forward to continue growing its partnership with Hong Kong under the chief executive's leadership, including in the GBA and the Belt and Road Initiative.