CHONGQING: Singapore and China have signed nine agreements and Memoranda of Understanding, following the conclusion of a top-level bilateral meeting in Chongqing on Tuesday (Oct 15).
The Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) meeting - the highest-level annual forum between China and Singapore - was co-chaired by Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng.
They witnessed the signing of the agreements, which covered areas like customs clearance, intellectual property management, education, innovation and communications, as well as smart city development.
Mr Heng and Mr Han exchanged views on the “excellent” state of bilateral relations, said Singapore’s Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in a press statement.
The co-chairs reviewed topics such as bilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, economic transformation and trade liberalisation, financial cooperation, as well as state-level bilateral cooperation projects.
They also pledged to further strengthen bilateral cooperation, and directed officials to develop events and projects to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Singapore-China diplomatic relations next year.
Mr Heng said that collaboration between Singapore and China must progress with the times, as both countries embark on a new phase of development.
This is why, on his first trip to China as co-chair of the JCBC meeting, he was accompanied by other members of Singapore’s fourth generation leadership, including six full ministers.
After the conclusion of the meeting in Chongqing, Mr Heng told reporters that this was as an opportunity for the next generation of leaders to deepen bilateral ties.
“As one of the officials mentioned at one of the intervention yesterday, we are rather unique in being a country that has so many cooperation platforms with China,” said Mr Heng.
“So I think this is something that we value, and both sides value, and we’d like to take this forward.”
Mr Heng also highlighted common challenges facing Singapore and China, including environmental protection, food security and an ageing population.
This is the 15th JCBC meeting. Mr Heng said one of the key aims of these annual meetings is for Singapore leaders to understand China’s development priorities and see how Singapore can play a role.
Speaking earlier in the day at the meeting, he noted that the JCBC’s comprehensive agenda reflects Singapore and China’s forward-looking cooperation.
“This year, we have a new sub-agenda item on smart cities cooperation that will see the establishment of a Smart City Initiative for Shenzhen, in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area. We also have a new sub-agenda item on capital market cooperation,” he added.
On his part, the Chinese co-chair said the 15th JCBC meeting is important as it builds on warm bilateral ties.
Referring to remarks made by President Xi Jinping to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Han thanked friendly nations like Singapore for supporting China over the years.
“No force can stop China's development and the progress of the Chinese people and Chinese civilisation. Our progress and achievements are due to the hard work of 1.4 billion Chinese people. It is also due to friendly nations like Singapore, who support us,” said Mr Han.
The co-chairs also reaffirmed the commitment to free and open trade, and announced the start of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Upgrade Protocol.
Mr Heng will travel to Tianjin and Beijing next. His visit to China ends on Thursday.