Wang Yi visits S'pore, meets PM Lee & DPM Wong, says China will speed up resumption of direct flights to S'pore

He met with PM Lee, Lawrence Wong, and Vivian Balakrishnan.

Tan Min-Wei | August 12, 2023, 11:02 AM


China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Singapore from Aug. 10 - 11, meeting with his counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan, as well as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.

While here, Wang discussed the various partnerships and links the two countries share, as well as the resumption of full direct flights.

Three state visit

Wang Yi, who was recently reappointed China's foreign minister, is visiting three Southeast Asian states, Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia.

Wang is also the Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, a position that is technically more senior than the role of Foreign Minister.

While in Singapore, Wang met with Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Aug. 10 and PM Lee and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on Aug. 11.

PM Lee and Wang reaffirmed Singapore and China's longstanding and substantive relations, recently upgraded to an “All-Round High-Quality Future-Oriented Partnership” in April this year.

Wang updated PM Lee on China's foreign policy priorities, while PM Lee welcomed China's continued engagement with Asean.

Both reaffirmed the importance of building an open, peaceful, and inclusive region.


Wang and Wong spoke about the progression of Singapore-China bilateral cooperation, as well as the institutionalised platform for cooperation, the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC).

Wong will be travelling to China later in 2023 to co-chair the 19th JCBC with China's Vice Premier Ding  Xuexiang.

Wong also expressed in-principle for China's interest in joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). 

Membership of CPTPP would require China to adhere to its high-standard rules and comprehensive market access commitments.

Gestures and travel resumption

Vivian hosted Wang to dinner on Aug 10, where Wang displayed a small diplomatic gesture.

A short video showed Vivian greeting Wang warmly, and apparently noted he was being "informal" by not wearing a tie.

Wang immediately moved to remove his own tie, and in subsequent photographs can be seen to have matched Vivian in being tieless.

During the discussion, Wang and Vivian said that the two sides will speed up the full resumption of direct flight between the two countries, as well as intensify economic, trade, cultural and tourism exchanges and cooperation, according to China's Foreign Ministry's Weibo statement. 

They also had a wide-ranging discussion on Asean-China relations, as well as other regional and international issues.

Journey on

Wang Yi has gone on to meet Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

The pair met in Penang, as Anwar is on the campaign trail for critical state elections due to be held on Aug. 12.

Anwar was quoted by Free Malaysia Today as saying that he did not have the time to meet Wang Yi in Kuala Lumpur, and that Wang Yi had agreed to meet with him in Penang.

Bernama posted a video of both men entering the history Eastern and Oriental hotel in Penang.

Wang Yi's visit comes in the aftermath of his abrupt reappointment as foreign minister.

The previous foreign minister, Qin Gang, appointed less than a year ago in 2022, took over from Wang who was promoted to the role of China's most senior diplomat.

But Qin has not been seen in public for several months, eventually being replaced by Qin in July.

An explanation for Qin's disappearance has not been forthcoming, although there have been several rumours.

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Top image via Lee Hsien Loong/Facebook & Vivian Balakrishnan/Facebook