SINGAPORE: Chinese and Singapore leaders on Friday (Oct 2) exchanged congratulatory messages as both countries mark exactly 25 years of diplomatic ties on Saturday.
In a letter to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Singapore’s President Tony Tan Keng Yam said the two countries' diplomatic ties were founded upon a "rich and longstanding historical friendship which dates back long before 1990".
Dr Tan noted that bilateral trade between the countries has increased more than 20-fold since diplomatic ties were formed. He also highlighted that Singapore has been China’s largest foreign investor since 2013.
“Our pioneer leaders, particularly Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Deng Xiaoping, laid a strong foundation for the bilateral relationship in the 1970s,” wrote Dr Tan. “Over a short span of 25 years, our relations have flourished and the friendship between our two peoples has never been stronger.”
Dr Tan added that he is looking forward to working with China to further expand cooperation. “I am confident that our partnership will continue to strengthen as we advance towards the golden jubilee of Singapore-China diplomatic relations,” he said.
In a separate letter to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said both countries’ bilateral cooperation has “grown by leaps and bounds”, and described the relations as a “long-standing and special friendship”.
“We have forged a close and mutually beneficial partnership, which has kept up with the times and spans wide-ranging fields,” wrote Mr Lee. “Our economic ties are robust, anchored by deep mutual understanding, common interests and strong people-to-people ties.”
Mr Lee also noted that Singapore has been supporting closer integration between China and the international community, and cooperated in forging closer relations between ASEAN and China.
"I look forward to working closely with you and your Government as we embark on the next 25 years of our partnership," Mr Lee wrote.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean noted that Singapore and China have built several institutional mechanisms for bilateral cooperation, including the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation, Singapore-China Leadership Forum and Singapore-China Social Governance Forum.
“These platforms have allowed us to broaden the scope of our bilateral cooperation for mutual benefit,” he said in a letter to Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.
Joint Steering Councils for the Suzhou Industrial Park and the Tianjin Eco-City have played a critical role in nurturing China and Singapore's Government-to-Government projects into models for bilateral cooperation, DPM Teo said.
Mr Teo also said that upcoming initiatives such as the upgrade of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and the Government-to-Government project in China’s western region reflect both countries’ commitment to boost bilateral relations.