Monday 9 November 2015

China President Xi Jinping State Visit to Singapore, 6 to 7 Nov 2015

Singapore, China ink slew of pacts to bolster bilateral ties
New 'all-round partnership' will see free trade pact upgraded and third joint project in China
By Kor Kian Beng, China Bureau Chief, The Sunday Times, 8 Nov 2015

Putting their new pledge to build an all-round partnership into action, Singapore and China inked several crucial pacts and agreed to explore several areas of cooperation to create opportunities for their people and businesses.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday. Both witnessed the signing of two agreements to launch talks for the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA) upgrade, and to start a new government-led project in south-western Chongqing city.

In a Facebook post, PM Lee said he had a fruitful meeting with Mr Xi, whose two-day state visit, he added, "further deepened the bilateral relationship".

Citing how the pacts will "open up more opportunities for mutual exchange, trade, investments and development", Mr Lee wrote: "China's dramatic progress is positive for the region and the world."

Another six agreements on areas such as education cooperation, urban management and collaboration between the two Customs authorities were also inked.

A key highlight of Mr Xi's visit here to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations was the setting up of an "All-Round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times".

Had a fruitful meeting with President Xi Jinping today. Singapore enjoys warm and substantial ties with China, and...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) statement said Mr Lee and Mr Xi agreed to issue a joint statement on the partnership "to define the forward-looking, innovative, and multifaceted nature of our bilateral ties". The joint statement listed 19 areas of consensus, such as fully tapping existing inter-governmental cooperation mechanisms like the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation chaired by the two countries' deputy prime ministers.

Both sides also agreed to further develop the two flagship government-led projects - Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-city - as they voiced strong support for the latest one, the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity.

"Both countries are fully committed to and shall provide full support for the success of the initiative," said the joint statement.

Deeper collaboration is also envisaged in areas such as transport, infocommunications, social governance, leadership training, science and innovation, culture, environmental and water protection, agriculture, food safety, customs, law enforcement and education.

Both sides also agreed to strengthen consultation and cooperation on regional and global issues, and also on issues of common interest through mechanisms such as the United Nations, World Trade Organisation and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Leaving room for even greater cooperation, the two sides noted that the present statement "does not preclude other areas of cooperation" that may emerge in the future.

A key factor for the development of Sino-Singapore ties is their young people, who need to understand the culture and history of both countries, and foster deeper friendship, Mr Xi said when he delivered the 36th Singapore Lecture at the National University of Singapore yesterday. Earlier in the day, Mr Xi, together with Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, opened the 11-storey China Cultural Centre in Queen Street. He and his wife Peng Liyuan later visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where a tall orchid was named after them.

The MFA statement also said that Mr Lee accepted Mr Xi's invitation to Singapore to take part in the G-20 meetings and G-20 Summit to be held in China next year.


China is bound to become more prosperous and stronger, but it is not an inexorable law of history that a powerful country will seek hegemony. China believes the strong should not bully the weak and the rich should not humiliate the poor... China will stick to the path of peaceful development and an independent, peace-oriented foreign policy. This is not an expedient tactic, but our strategic choice and solemn commitment.



Xi Jinping pledges freedom of passage in South China Sea
There will never be a problem, he says, stressing China's intention to keep the peace
By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor, The Sunday Times, 8 Nov 2015

There has never been a problem with freedom of navigation or overland flights in the South China Sea, nor will there ever be, Chinese President Xi Jinping said.

Making the pledge during the Singapore Lecture yesterday, Mr Xi said the "starting point and ultimate purpose of China's policy towards the South China Sea is to maintain peace and stability there".

"Thanks to the joint efforts of China and other states, the situation in the South China Sea is generally peaceful," he said, adding that China intends to keep it so, as it is the country that needs freedom of navigation through those waters the most.

Mr Xi repeated China's position that islands in the South China Sea have been Chinese territory since ancient times and that the Chinese government has a duty to uphold its sovereign rights and maritime interests. But he emphasised that China seeks to resolve its territorial disputes through peaceful dialogue.

The most important task facing all Asian countries, he said, is ensuring robust and sustained development, which requires a peaceful and stable environment.

"This is the biggest common interest of Asian countries. Non-Asian countries should understand and respect this, and play a constructive role," he added.

The broad theme in Mr Xi's 40-minute speech at the National University of Singapore's Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music was of China's peaceful intentions.

"Some people are fanning up the so-called 'China threat'. They may do so out of ignorance of China's past and present or its culture and policies, or... out of misunderstanding of, and bias against, China. Some may even have some kind of hidden agenda," he said.

"Let me be clear, China is committed to peaceful development and pursues an independent foreign policy of peace. "This is not an expediency; it is a strategic decision made by China, as well as a solemn pledge it has made to the world," he added.

The Chinese leader, whose state visit here was to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two sides, also spoke on the bilateral relationship, as well as his country's own domestic policy priorities. These include tackling rural and urban poverty, cementing the middle class and finding an environmentally sustainable development path.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat were at the lecture, attended by political and business leaders, diplomats, academics and students.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean delivered the opening and closing remarks at the lecture.

Saying that he wants to deepen China's cooperation with its Asian neighbours, Mr Xi suggested four guiding ideas:

• That Asian nations should work together to uphold peace and stability and never let animosity divide them.

• Jointly prioritise development that improves the lives of their people, and engage in mutual assistance to this end.

• Cooperate in addressing security threats and "non-traditional" challenges like environmental protection.

• Work to deepen their common Asian identity, and draw on people-to-people ties and a history of shared culture to ensure long-term harmony.

Mr Xi congratulated Singapore on its Golden Jubilee and lauded the "hard-working and visionary people" who built the city into one of the most advanced countries in Asia.

Singapore and China, he said, have a partnership that progresses with time. "I'm confident we will scale new heights," he added.



The South China Sea islands have been China's since ancient times. It is the bound duty of the Chinese government to uphold its sovereign and legitimate maritime rights and interests.

The starting point and ultimate purpose of China's policy towards the South China Sea is to maintain peace and stability there. Thanks to the joint efforts of China and other states, the situation in the South China Sea is generally peaceful.

There has never been any problem with freedom of navigation and overflight, nor will there ever be. Because in the first place, China is the country which needs freedom of navigation in the South China Sea the most.


As we look back on the history of China-Singapore relations, we cherish all the more the memory of two great statesmen who forged this relationship - Mr Deng Xiaoping and Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

I often recall my interactions and meetings with Mr Lee Kuan Yew. What he said to me is still ringing in my ears. I've drawn great inspirations from our conversations.

Posted by Lianhe Wanbao 联合晚报 on Friday, November 6, 2015

Although both of them are no longer with us, their great achievements will always be remembered by both of us on our respective developmental processes.

They are also the founders for China and Singapore's strategic cooperation. The youth represent the future. I'm glad to see that the saplings of China-Singapore cooperation, so carefully nurtured by past leaders, have grown into luxuriant trees laden with fruit.

“Indeed, NUS has produced a galaxy of talents and outstanding public leaders for Singapore. NUS champions the vision...
Posted by National University of Singapore on Friday, November 6, 2015

Singapore, China exploring new areas of cooperation
The Sunday Times, 8 Nov 2015

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and China's President Xi Jinping yesterday noted the significant growth in ties since diplomatic relations were forged 25 years ago as both countries set out to explore new areas of cooperation.

These include social governance, finance, human resource development, education, cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

At their meeting yesterday, both PM Lee and Mr Xi expressed satisfaction with a newly inked agreement to start talks on an upgrade of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.

Mr Lee also expressed confidence in the long-term outlook for China's economy and proposed expanding cooperation in capital markets, said a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

On financial cooperation, both leaders agreed that yuan cooperation has been a highlight in bilateral relations, with great potential to grow further.

PM Lee expressed strong support for the inclusion of the yuan in the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Rights basket, reflecting its growing use as an international currency.

The two leaders also exchanged views on regional developments and agreed to strengthen collaboration between Asean and China.

Both sides will mark the 25th anniversary of dialogue relations next year. As the country coordinator for Asean-China dialogue relations, Singapore will work closely with both sides to strengthen ties, said the MFA statement.

President Xi Jinping opens the China Cultural Centre
Crowd greets VIP with cheers in Queen St
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Sunday Times, 8 Nov 2015

More than a hundred Chinese nationals gathered along Queen Street to catch a glimpse of their President yesterday morning.

When Mr Xi Jinping arrived for the opening of the China Cultural Centre shortly after 8.30am, the crowd greeted him with cheers and waved small flags.

Mr Xi, who was in Singapore on a state visit to mark the 25th anniversary of bilateral ties, waved back at well-wishers as his car drove past.

Among them was housewife Lu Guan Le, 39, a Shandong native and permanent resident who took along her two daughters, aged six and three.

"My children are Singaporeans, like their dad, but I keep up with China's developments and tell them about it," she said.

President Xi Jinping is indeed an old friend of Singapore. He last visited in 2010 as Vice President. Before that he had...
Posted by MParader on Friday, November 6, 2015

Joining Mr Xi for the official opening of the 11-storey centre was Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, China's Culture Minister Luo Shugang and Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng.

In a short speech, Mr Baey said President Xi's state visit, as well as President Tony Tan Keng Yam's state visit to China in July, "testify to the good relations that Singapore and China enjoy at the highest level, and across many sectors".

Mr Baey noted that earlier this year, then Community, Culture and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong visited Beijing for the seventh edition of the Singapore-China Executive Programme, paving the way for more cultural partnerships between both countries' institutions.

"Such exchanges, and the establishment of the China Cultural Centre, will help us cultivate a deeper and richer appreciation of each other's arts and culture," he added.

Both countries, in a joint statement, also pledged to strengthen cultural cooperation.

The centre, which is open to the public, is designed by prominent Singapore architect Liu Thai Ker, and took over two years to build. It also has a library and will host regular exhibitions, including one tracing 25 years of bilateral relations.

There are more than 20 similar centres all over the world and China aims to have at least 50 by 2020 to promote its culture and further bolster its soft power abroad.

Some Chinese nationals who did not manage to see Mr Xi up close at the cultural centre decided to try their luck at the Botanic Gardens, where Mr Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan had an orchid named after them and were hosted to lunch by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching.

Said undergraduate Sharon Yang, 19, who took a taxi to the Botanic Gardens: "President Xi has done a great many things, but the most important is his firm anti-corruption stance. To get the chance to try to see him in person is an honour."

We are thrilled to welcome His Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China and Mdm Peng Liyuan at...
Posted by NParks - Let's Make Singapore Our Garden on Friday, November 6, 2015

Orchid hybrid named after Chinese President and wife
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Sunday Times, 8 Nov 2015

A tall orchid hybrid in the Singapore Botanic Gardens now bears the names of China's President and First Lady.

President Xi Jinping and Madam Peng Liyuan yesterday visited the Gardens for a ceremony to name the Papilionanda Xi Jinping-Peng Liyuan, accompanied by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching.

The National Parks Board, in a Facebook post, described the orchid as "a vigorous and free-flowering hybrid" that produces strong and upright flower sprays, which are capable of reaching about 40cm long and bear about seven flowers each.

The petals are light pink with fine red spots, and each bloom is complemented by a prominent lip that is orangey red with dark red markings and an orangey yellow centre.

PM Lee and Ms Ho later hosted Mr Xi and Madam Peng to a four-course lunch at Corner House in the Gardens. The menu was chosen from chef Jason Tan's signature dishes.

Corner House was built in 1910 and named after renowned botanist E. J. H. Corner, who lived there and was assistant director of the Gardens from 1929 to 1945.

PM Lee later said in a Facebook post that he had a fruitful meeting with Mr Xi.

"Singapore enjoys warm and substantial ties with China, and President Xi's visit has further deepened the relationship," he wrote.

Chinese First Lady's reunited with musician friends here
She asked to meet the 15 she had performed with in 1987 during her recent state visit here
By Yuen Sin, The Sunday Times, 15 Nov 2015

An unforgettable experience of a lifetime.

That was how Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan described her first visit to Singapore in 1987, when she performed in a vocal recital at the Singapore Conference Hall and got to know members of the Zhong Yi Traditional Orchestra.

She had asked to meet the 15 musicians she had performed with during her state visit here with Chinese President Xi Jinping last weekend.

"The moment she stepped into the room, she looked at us and said that she recognised every single one of us, and remembered the instruments that we played," said Mr Lee Kway Liang, who plays the cello.

The private meeting, which lasted about 40 minutes on Nov 7 morning at St Regis Hotel, was a casual gathering of old friends who had not met for more than two decades.

"We spoke about whatever came to mind. Some of us like to joke and poke fun at each other, and it made Ms Peng very happy when we made her laugh," added Mr Lee, a retiree who is in his 60s.

They discussed things like the performance of traditional Chinese music and calligraphy, and Ms Peng encouraged them to pass these skills on to the next generation.

All members, except two who were not free, turned up for the reunion. They shook hands with her, and each received a box containing a special two-DVD compilation of Chinese folk songs performed by her, as well as her photo and autograph.

Back in 1987, Ms Peng, with four other youth singers from China Central Television, was invited to perform here by the late Singapore tenor Tan Buck Siak. She was then 24 and had just won a national youth singing contest in China.

"She was already quite a household name by then, both in China and here in Singapore. When we were asked by Mr Tan to perform with her, we started rehearsing weeks in advance. As an amateur orchestra, what if we couldn't match her standards?" said Mr Ang Lam Seng, then the conductor of the orchestra.

The group spent about five days rehearsing with Ms Peng ahead of their shows over three days. It was the first time that singers from China were invited to perform here and tickets were sold out.

After rehearsals, the musicians would go with the Chinese singers to shop or run errands, and they often had dinner or supper together.

"Ms Peng had a very gregarious personality and got along very well with us. She was open and honest about her preferences, and had no airs," said Mr Ang, who is now retired and in his 60s.

The musicians recalled that she admired the island's beauty when she first arrived and was keen to explore the place. In particular, she wanted to see what everyday life was like for most Singaporeans.

In fact, the first Housing Board flat she visited was Mr Lee's five-room unit in Everton Park.

The group kept in touch after her first visit through letters, and cards on festive occasions.

She invited them to her graduation concert when she completed her studies at the Chinese Conservatory of Music around 1989 but they could not go. She returned to Singapore in 1990 and 1993 to perform at the Singapore River Hongbao Special, where she met them.

They took her on an MRT ride, to hawker centres to sample yong tau foo, one of her favourite local dishes, and visited the Nanyang Technological Institute, which in 1991 became the Nanyang Technological University.

She was even game enough to try durians in Queen Street, pinching her nose while taking the first bite. As she was here over the Chinese New Year period in 1990, she also visited their homes to see how the festival was celebrated here.

As Ms Peng began cutting back on public appearances while her husband's political star rose, they gradually lost contact.

But last week's reunion with Ms Peng reaffirmed their friendship.

"Ordinary people like us could have been easily forgotten, but we must have left a deep impression on her," said Mr Lim Bee Wah, a retiree in his 60s who plays the erhu.

Upgraded FTA could offer more access to China's services sector
Review of S'pore-China pact, due to be sealed next year, to also give businesses greater protection in investments
By Chong Koh Ping, The Sunday Times, 8 Nov 2015

Singapore businesses can look forward to greater protection for their investments in China, fewer barriers to investing there and more access to the country's services sector.

This is the aim of a review of the China-Singapore free trade agreement (CSFTA), which is targeted for completion next year.

Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang exchanged letters with his Chinese counterpart, Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, yesterday to officially start talks to broaden the scope of the pact first signed in 2008.

"A forward-looking, substantive and comprehensive upgrade of the CSFTA will enhance support for ongoing and future collaborations between Singapore and China," said Mr Lim.

A Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) statement noted that the enhanced CSFTA will inject new dimensions and refresh its relevance to the business communities in both countries.

The upgraded agreement "will provide our businesses with enhanced trade facilitation and greater investment protection in China, as well as address investment barriers".

The two countries will also explore greater cooperation in the services sector, in areas such as legal services and financial services. New areas such as environment and e-commerce will also be included to keep the CSFTA "abreast of global developments".

The CSFTA was the Chinese government's first such agreement with an Asian country. It has since gone on to sign several FTAs with other countries.

Currently, 95 per cent of Singapore's exports to China are already duty-free, while there are no tariffs on all Chinese exports to Singapore. Singapore and Chinese companies in hospital and selected business services sectors enjoy preferential access in each other's markets. In addition, Chinese companies in the education services sector also enjoy greater access to Singapore.

The business community in Singapore welcomed the review, calling it a "timely move".

"It has been nearly seven years since the agreement came into force (in January 2009) and the services sector in China has seen an increase in activities (since then)," said Singapore Business Federation council chairman Teo Siong Seng, better known as S. S. Teo.

"There could be new forms of investments in these sectors (for our businesses)," he said, adding that there is more room for China to lift market restrictions in the healthcare, education and eldercare sectors.

Dr Cheah Kim Fee, chief executive of Q&M Dental Holdings (China), was hopeful that Singapore investors would be able to set up 100 per cent foreign-owned operations in the medical sector.

The Singapore-based dental chain has three hospitals and eight polyclinics, with more than 100 dentists in the Liaoning province of China. It operates in China through a joint-venture (JV) with a local partner.

"Although healthcare is a very localised sector, where we would want to work with a JV partner, it would be great if we could have the option to go it alone," said Dr Cheah.

Law firm Rajah & Tann's Mr Chia Kim Huat noted that investments in the business services sector are generally "out of bounds". He hopes that professionals like lawyers, accountants, valuers and architects will be allowed to have JVs or even set up their own companies in China to provide local services.

"When the Chinese (companies) move out to the region, we then can advise them on local compliances issues and regulations," said Mr Chia, who is the firm's regional head for corporate and transactional practice.

The firm now operates a representative office in Shanghai, where it has limited operational scope.

"We have to work with the local (law) firms, which is not ideal," he added.

Number of bilateral deals signed
The Sunday Times, 8 Nov 2015

Eight memoranda of understanding and agreements, spanning key areas of bilateral cooperation, were signed between Singapore and China yesterday. The highlights:

• The review of the enhanced China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement is targeted for conclusion next year. It aims to give Singapore businesses more protection for their investments in China, eliminate more barriers to investing in China and help firms gain more access to China's services sector.

• The third government-to-government project in Chongqing will focus on financial services, aviation, transport and logistics, and information and communications technology. This will boost investment in Chongqing, a boon for Singapore banks which have a presence in the city.

• Nanyang Technological University will set up a joint research institute in Guangzhou with South China University of Technology that aims to foster development of new technology such as electric vehicles.

NTU sets up research institute in Guangzhou
By Rachel Chang, The Sunday Times, 8 Nov 2015

The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is setting up a joint research institute in the southern Guangzhou city to develop new technologies like next-generation electric vehicles.

NTU will partner the South China University of Technology in the project, to be called the Sino-Singapore International Joint Research Institute.

It will occupy up to 20,000 sq m in the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City, with funding of $44 million for the first five years.

The company behind the Knowledge City is also party to the agreement, signed at the Istana yesterday and witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

NTU said that the institute will focus on research that translates to technological advances for Guangzhou. Several research areas have been identified, including next-generation electric vehicles and intelligent urban transportation systems, nutrition and food science, sustainable urban development, pollution control and environmental restoration, as well as biomedical materials and medical instruments, it said.

"This trans-national research initiative can also help to solve common issues related to research and development faced by both Singapore and China," said NTU president Bertil Andersson.

Chongqing project will open up vast western region
By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor and Chong Koh Ping, The Sunday Times, 8 Nov 2015

The new Singapore-China government-led project in Chongqing will aim to become a demonstration of modern connectivity and services in China's vast western region.

The four priority areas of collaboration are in financial services, aviation, transport and logistics, and information and communications technology.

The signing of the agreements took place at the Istana and was witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday. This third government-to-government project will be officially known as the "China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity". Chongqing, with a population of 33 million, beat Chengdu and Xi'an to secure the project.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said yesterday that as the project aims to develop a "network effect" in strengthening connectivity within and beyond China, collaborations with other western cities will be considered in the future.

The project will also serve as a linchpin of China's regional strategies, such as the "One Belt, One Road" initiative to boost trade and investment along the overland Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road connecting China with South-east Asia, Africa and Europe. "As an important growth pillar of the 'One Belt, One Road' initiative, Chongqing is well-positioned as a base to pilot innovative measures arising from China's comprehensive deepening of reforms and to drive the development of western China," said MTI.

Labour chief Chan Chun Sing, who heads the joint ministerial committee on the project with Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng, said that it "reflects our mutual commitment to take bilateral relations to a higher level".

"Given western China's strong potential for development in modern connectivity and modern services, this is an opportunity for Singapore companies to share their expertise and expand their presence in China," he added.

Singapore banks welcomed the project, which they say is likely to spur further investment flows. All three local banks have branches in Chongqing, with OCBC being the first to set up shop there in 2009.

Mr Benjamin Quek, OCBC's head of China business office, called it a boon for regional customers interested in investing in Chongqing and for Singapore banks to provide them with the necessary support, especially opportunities arising from the "One Belt, One Road" initiative.

DBS Bank said that, since its Chongqing branch opened in 2012, it has helped many Chinese multinationals expand outside China, and also linked foreign firms with opportunities in the Chinese city.

As for Singapore companies, they have invested a total of nearly US$5 billion (S$7 billion) as at the end of last year. Of this, US$580 million was pumped in last year, according to IE Singapore.

Chongqing picked for 3rd govt-to-govt project
The Straits Times, 7 Nov 2015

Chongqing in south-western China, with a population of 33 million people, is one of the largest cities in the world.

Yesterday, Chongqing Municipality was announced as the site of the third government-to-government project between Singapore and China, beating two other sites - Chengdu, capital of south-western Sichuan province, and Xi'an, capital of north-western Shaanxi province.

During their meeting yesterday, Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed on Chongqing as the site for the third government- to-government project.

The Chongqing project follows in the footsteps of the 1994 Suzhou Industrial Park and the 2008 Tianjin Eco-City.

The project could help Singapore companies tap growth in the western region of China.

Chongqing, which has a land area of 82,400 sq km, registered 10.7 per cent gross domestic product growth in the first half of this year - the highest growth rate of all of China's provinces and regions.

In vying for the project, Chongqing had proposed a joint modern services demonstration zone, where Singapore firms can offer legal and accounting services, as well as an integrated logistics centre comprising an aviation and port logistics hub.

Chengdu had suggested a joint international financial city, while Xi'an had envisaged a Silk Road Economic Belt free trade zone.

Chongqing was one of China's industrial bases and is now strengthening its five backbone industries, including cars and chemicals, as well as boosting the development of high-tech industries.

As an important node along the new "Silk Road Economic Belt", Chongqing is set to benefit from the "One Belt, One Road" strategy initiated by the Chinese government.

President Xi Jinping arrives in Singapore as we commemorate 25 years of diplomatic relations with China. Amazing that...
Posted by Vivian Balakrishnan on Friday, November 6, 2015

Investments 'show confidence in China'
President Tan says continuous flow reflects how Singapore is upbeat about China's future
By Kor Kian Beng, China Bureau Chief, The Straits Times, 7 Nov 2015

Singapore's confidence in the future of China is best reflected in the continuous flow of its investments into China, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said as he voiced confidence in its continued success under President Xi Jinping's leadership.

Speaking at a state banquet held in honour of Mr Xi last night, Dr Tan noted that Singapore has been China's largest foreign investor for the past two years while China has been Singapore's largest trading partner since 2013.

He also noted that Singapore was the first country in Asia to launch negotiations with China for a bilateral free trade agreement, which came into force in January 2009. It has since boosted bilateral trade and investments by over 160 per cent and 162 per cent respectively.

"It is, therefore, fitting that, as we commemorate 25 years of diplomatic relations, our countries have agreed to launch a substantive upgrade of the China-Singapore FTA to prepare for the next stage of our economic cooperation."

Dr Tan said the upgrade will also serve as a pathfinder for both countries' participation in regional economic frameworks.

He cited the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership - an initiative between the 10-member Asean group and its six dialogue partners, including China - as well as the Asean-China FTA upgrade.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said Dr Tan and Mr Xi had agreed to upgrade the CSFTA and conclude it by next year.

Dr Tan said Singapore is also pleased to have been able to participate "in modest ways" in China's modern economic development over the past three decades, which has "unlocked unprecedented levels of growth and development in the country and lifted millions of Chinese people out of poverty".

Going forward, he said President Xi is leading the Chinese people into a new era of progress and prosperity through "Comprehensively Deepening Reforms".

It is the name and mandate of a leading small group within the Communist Party chaired by Mr Xi that espouses holistic policy formulation and pushes social and economic reforms even in the face of opposition from vested interest groups.

"This is a remarkable endeavour and I am confident that China will continue to succeed under your leadership," said Dr Tan.

He said Singapore has also always backed China's peaceful role in the regional architecture and global initiatives, pointing out that it was among the first countries to support China's initiative to set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to meet infrastructural development demand in the region.

Singapore, he said, also welcomes China's Silk Road initiatives to revive two ancient trading routes and improve trade and culture links between China and Europe via Central and South-east Asia.

Mr Xi, with his wife Peng Liyuan, arrived yesterday for his first state visit to Singapore since taking over the presidency in 2013.

Looking back, Dr Tan said nobody could have predicted when Sino-Singapore diplomatic relations began in 1990 that the friendship and cooperation between them would have grown so rapidly and in such a broad and deep manner.

It is similar to how nobody had expected Singapore would survive, much less succeed, when it became independent in 1965, he said.

"This can be attributed to the historical and cultural linkages between our two peoples, including our pioneer generation of leaders," said Dr Tan.

A demonstration of political mutual trust was reflected by founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's first visit to China in 1976 and Chinese patriarch Deng Xiaoping's visit to Singapore in 1978, even before diplomatic ties began, he said.

"To this day, mutual respect and political trust between our two countries remain high, and high-level exchanges continue to be frequent."

My wife and I were delighted to welcome the President of the People’s Republic of China His Excellency Xi Jinping and...
Posted by Dr Tony Tan on Friday, November 6, 2015


When Singapore became independent in 1965, nobody expected that we would survive, much less succeed. Similarly, when we established diplomatic relations with China in 1990, nobody could have predicted that our friendship and cooperation would have grown so rapidly and in such a broad and deep manner. This can be attributed to the historical and cultural linkages between our two peoples, including our pioneer generation of leaders.

PRESIDENT TONY TAN KENG YAM, on how Sino-Singapore relations have grown beyond expectations


With the establishment of an all-round partnership that keeps pace with times, China will work with Singapore to seize the momentum, enhance political trust and gain new practical cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, equality, and mutual benefit. And strengthen our coordination and collaboration on international and regional issues. Together, we will write more new exciting chapters in China-Singapore relations.

PRESIDENT XI JINPING, on what China hopes to do through a new partnership with Singapore

Received President Xi Jinping today for the start of his 2-day state visit. His visit marks 25 years of diplomatic...
Posted by Heng Swee Keat on Friday, November 6, 2015

Gifts exchanged
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 7 Nov 2015

President Tony Tan Keng Yam and China's President Xi Jinping exchanged gifts with iconic images of their two countries at the Istana yesterday.

Mr Xi, who is here on a state visit, received a drawing of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, a Unesco World Heritage Site. The drawing depicts the intricate, leafy design of the Gardens' Tanglin Gate, set against a detailed background of foliage. Its artist is teenager Glenn Phua, a student at Pathlight School, the first autism-focused school that offers the curriculum of national schools.

Mr Xi and his wife, Madam Peng Liyuan, will visit the Gardens today where they will have an orchid hybrid named in their honour. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Mrs Lee will host them to lunch at the Corner House restaurant in the Gardens.

Dr Tan received a bone china tea and coffee set, decorated with motifs of the Great Wall of China and Singapore's Merlion.

Singapore, China to be 'all-round partners'
Presidents of both countries unveil partnership that is in step with the times
By Kor Kian Beng, China Bureau ChiefThe Straits Times, 7 Nov 2015

Singapore and China have entered into a formal partnership aimed at strengthening coordination on regional and global issues, and producing more cooperation initiatives, such as a third government- led project that will be based in south-western Chongqing city.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled the partnership in their respective remarks as they led a toast at an Istana state banquet last night.

Mr Xi arrived yesterday afternoon for a two-day state visit to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

"Our wide-ranging cooperation evolves with the changing developmental principles, priorities and capabilities. What our two countries share is a unique all-round partnership that progresses with the times," Dr Tan said, adding that the partnership would "highlight our shared goals and aspirations of future bilateral cooperation".

Taking the podium next, Mr Xi said ties have reached a new level of development, citing a Chinese saying that means the higher you stand, the farther you see.

"With the establishment of an all- round partnership that keeps pace with the times, China will work with Singapore to seize the momentum, enhance political trust and gain new practical cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit," he added.

The partnership is also aimed at "strengthening our coordination and collaboration on international and regional issues", said Mr Xi.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement last night that both sides agreed to establish an "All Round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times".

It added that both Dr Tan and Mr Xi agreed to launch negotiations on the upgrade of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and to conclude the negotiations by next year.

A Xinhua news agency report quoted Mr Xi as saying that both countries could improve coordination in multilateral outfits such as the United Nations and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and that Singapore and Chinese enterprises can explore joint ventures in third-party countries, especially in financial cooperation.

In his speech, Mr Xi noted that the first two government-to-government projects - Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-City, which began in 1994 and 2008 respectively - have made good progress.

He announced that Chongqing would be the site of the third such project, which China proposed in 2013 to boost its less-developed western regions.The project has the theme of modern connectivity and modern services and is expected to focus on sectors such as aviation, finance, logistics and education.

Mr Lim Ming Yan, president and group chief executive of Singapore developer CapitaLand, said the new project will strengthen Chongqing as the gateway to western China and accelerate its development to become the country's next financial and business centre.

Mr Xi, who is accompanied by his wife Peng Liyuan, is making his first state visit to Singapore since becoming President in 2013. His visit is part of an exchange of presidential trips that saw Dr Tan visit Beijing and Tianjin in July. Today, Mr Xi will meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, after which they will witness the signing of agreements. Mr Xi will visit the Botanic Gardens, where an orchid hybrid will be named in honour of him and his wife. He will also deliver a lecture and open the China Cultural Centre.

China President Xi Jinping arrives in Singapore on Friday for state visit
By Kor Kian Beng, China Bureau ChiefThe Straits Times, 7 Nov 2015

Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived in Singapore on Friday (Nov 6) evening, kick-starting his two-day state visit to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations and to launch new initiatives for bilateral cooperation.

He and his wife Peng Liyuan emerged from a private jet at Changi Airport and will head to the Istana where Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam will host an official welcome ceremony for them.

Dr Tan will receive a courtesy call from Mr Xi while Mrs Mary Tan will separately host Mr Xi’s wife, Madam Peng, to tea.

Mr Xi’s trip – his first to Singapore since becoming president in 2013 – is part of celebrations this year by both sides to mark close bilateral ties and cooperation since diplomatic relations were formalised on Oct 3, 1990. Dr Tan visited Beijing and Tianjin in July.

A state banquet featuring local favourites such as chilli crab and bak kut teh will be held on Friday evening in honour of Mr Xi, Madam Peng and their delegation.

They include policy research head Wang Huning, general office head Li Zhanshu and State Councillor Yang Jiechi, who had accompanied Mr Xi on his state visit in Vietnam since Thursday.

During Mr Xi’s visit here, both sides are set to adopt a new strategic framework – likely called “a partnership of all-round cooperation keeping with the times” – to help chart future ties and cooperation.

Singapore and China will also sign several pacts, such as an exchange of letters for the official launch of negotiations to upgrade the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, which took effect in January 2009.

Both sides will also sign agreements related to the third government-to-government project in western China, as well as cooperation in areas such as education, urban management and collaboration between the two Customs.

Mr Xi will meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday (Nov 7) and both will witness the signing ceremony.

Mr Xi and his wife will also visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens where an orchid hybrid “Papilionanda” will be named in their honour. PM Lee and his wife Ho Ching will host them to a private lunch.

During his visit, Mr Xi will deliver the 36th Singapore Lecture at the National University of Singapore on Saturday, which will be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean.

Along with Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Mr Xi will also officially open the China Cultural Centre located in Queen Street on Saturday morning.

The two leaders had attended its ground-breaking ceremony in 2010 when Mr Xi visited Singapore as vice-president to mark the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties.

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