BEIJING: Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that Singapore's relationship with China has progressed "very well" over the past year and hopes this can be taken further in 2019.
DPM Teo made these comments as he met Chinese leaders in Beijing on Thursday (Apr 11), as part of a six-day visit to China.
He was received by China’s top anti-graft official Zhao Leji at the Great Hall of the People in the morning, where both men reaffirmed the “excellent state of bilateral relations”.
They also expressed satisfaction with the cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.
“Bilateral relations between China and Singapore have grown from strength to strength in the past year,” said DPM Teo.
He pointed out that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Vice Premier Han Zheng and Vice President Wang Qishan made visits to Singapore last year.
Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was also in Beijing last month, while Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be in the Chinese capital for the Belt and Road Forum later in April.
“These visits provide very important guidance for the work of ministers and officials,” added DPM Teo.
Mr Zhao, who is also a member of the Communist Party’s politburo standing committee, said he was glad to be meeting an "old friend".
Both have attended three Singapore-China leadership forums together - a platform for leaders from both countries to exchange experiences on challenges in leadership development.
DPM Teo is set to co-chair the seventh edition of the forum in Yan'an with Chinese minister Chen Xi from Sunday.
Later in the morning, DPM Teo held talks with head of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission Guo Shengkun, exchanging views on issues such as transnational crime and counter-terrorism.
He also met the director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office Yang Jiechi.
They reaffirmed the good progress made by the three government-to-government projects, as well as the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City, which is a state-level bilateral cooperation project.
Also discussed were ways to further cooperation, including in smart cities development and third-country cooperation in Southeast Asia under the Belt and Road Initiative.
In the evening, DPM Teo met State Councilor and Defence Minister Wei Fenghe.
Besides reaffirming the warm and friendly defence ties between the two countries, they also discussed ways to boost defence cooperation.
DPM Teo added that he brought several younger leaders along for this trip, to better understand the breadth and depth of the relationship between Singapore and China.
He is accompanied by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah.
On Friday, DPM Teo will travel to Suzhou to mark the 25th anniversary of the Suzhou Industrial Park - the first government-to-government project between Singapore and China.