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S’pore’s relations with China have improved tremendously: PM Lee

PM Lee also said Singapore can make a "modest contribution" to China's Belt & Road Initiative.

Kayla Wong | April 25, 02:24 am

Ties between Singapore and China have grown “tremendously”, said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday, April 23.

Singapore is China’s largest investor

The comment was made in an interview with official Chinese state-run media Xinhua ahead of PM Lee’s visit to Beijing for the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

The interview saw PM Lee take stock of Sino-Singapore relations since both countries established diplomatic relations in 1990.

He noted that China is now Singapore’s largest trading partner, and that according to Chinese statistics, Singapore is China’s largest foreign investor currently.

Cooperating on projects

Both countries are cooperating on several government-to-government projects, such as the Suzhou Industrial Park, the Tianjin Eco-city, and the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI), which fits into China’s development plans in its western provinces under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The CCI allows Singapore to connect to Chongqing, and for Chongqing to connect to Southeast Asia and the world, PM Lee added.

He also commented that if the CCI works, it will not only be a service to all countries in the region, but will also benefit China.

Singapore can make “modest contribution” to China’s BRI

PM Lee remarked on China’s ambitious BRI plans as well.

He noted that Singapore accounts for “one quarter” of China’s investments for all of the BRI partner countries.

While he acknowledged that it will take many years to bring the plans to fruition, or it might even be one which “will never have an ending point”, he thinks Singapore is “well-placed to make modest contribution”.

He hoped Singapore could do this by playing a “constructive part on financial services, on third country investments, on human resources development”.

Closer ties between Singapore & China

PM Lee also advocated for closer ties for China with Asean countries, saying that when it was the coordinator country for Asean-China relations, Singapore did its best to “bring those relations forward”.

He also expressed his hope that China will “integrate constructively and peacefully into the regional economy”, as well as the “global trading and strategic system”, through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) — a free-trade agreement that Asean is working on at the moment.

RCEP involves Asean member countries and six other countries as well, including China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Finally, he said the key to achieving this is China’s overall strategy as it moves forward to “develop relations with other major powers in a constructive, stable, and mutually beneficial way”, and not allow this “fundamental shift” to lead to tensions or conflict.

Should China be able to do that, Singapore-China relations will then prosper, PM Lee said.

You can read the transcript of the interview here.

Top image via Deng Zhi Wei/Xinhua News

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