5 new initiatives launched during Chinese President Xi Jinping's S'pore visit
Chinese President Xi Jinping leaves S'pore today after a two-day visit to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations. New initiatives for bilateral cooperation were launched during the trip
1 Singapore and China officially launched negotiations to upgrade the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang exchanging letters with his Chinese counterpart, Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng.
The FTA, which was signed in 2008, was the first of its kind between China and another Asian country.
It removed tariffs from around 95 per cent of exports from Singapore to China, among other changes. .
The upgrade will facilitate enhanced trade between the two nations and greater investment protection in China.
The review is expected to be completed by next year.
2 Singapore and China will embark on a third government-to-government project in Chongqing, China.
Named the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity, the project will focus on financial services, aviation, transport and logistics, and information and communication technology.
Its predecessors are the Suzhou Industrial Park in 1994 and the Tianjin Eco-city in 2008.
3 A new joint research institute will be set up in Guangzhou, China, by Nanyang Technological University and three Chinese associations.
Called the Sino-Singapore International Joint Research Institute, it will focus on developing new technologies including next-generation electric vehicles and intelligent urban transportation systems.
4 The China Cultural Centre at Queen Street was opened by President Xi Jinping yesterday, making it the ninth of such centres worldwide.
Other Cultural Centres set up by the Chinese government are in Benin, Berlin, Cairo, Malta, Mauritius, Paris, Seoul and Tokyo.
The centre aims to facilitate the understanding of Chinese culture abroad and deepen cultural exchange between China and its host country.
5 Education ministers in China and Singapore will enjoy greater cooperation thanks to a new agreement signed at the Istana yesterday.
Up to 15 senior educators from each country will be given the opportunity to be attached to technical and vocational institutions in the other country, reported The Straits Times.
Existing exchange programmes, like one where English-language teachers from China can apply for Masters of Arts in Applied Linguistics at Singapore's National Institute of Education, will also be expanded.
China & Taiwan meet in S'pore 66 years after split
The presidents of China and Taiwan reached across decades of Cold War-era estrangement and rivalry to exchange a historic handshake and warm words.
It is their first summit since the two sides' traumatic 1949 split.
China's Xi Jinping and Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou shook hands for more than a minute and smiled for a mass of reporters before their talks in Singapore in scenes considered unthinkable until recently.
They later sat down at a table, across from each other, with Mr Xi praising the event as opening a "historic chapter in our relations" and repeating China's oft-expressed desire for eventual reunification.
Mr Xi said: "We are brothers connected by flesh even if our bones are broken. We are a family whose blood is thicker than water.
"The development of cross-strait relations over the past 66 years shows that no matter what kind of winds and rains are experienced by compatriots on the two sides, no matter how long divisions last, there is no power that can separate us."
Despite the apparent warmth, no agreements were announced.
"Even though this is the first meeting, we feel like old friends," Mr Ma told Mr Xi, in the unexpectedly cordial encounter.
"Behind us is history stretching for 60 years. Now before our eyes, there are fruits of conciliation instead of confrontation."
Mr Ma later told reporters he proposed the establishment of a hotline between to the two sides and that Mr Xi responded positively, AFP reported.
He also raised issues sensitive to Taiwan's people, including the arsenal of Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan and China's policy of marginalising the island diplomatically.
"We hope these things do not continue," said Mr Ma, who told Mr Xi that both sides should exercise "mutual respect".
Meanwhile, the police are looking into a group of five Taiwanese in relation to the tightened security at Shangri-La Hotel, where the summit was held.
This is after the police received information about the group, said its spokesman. The five Taiwanese are currently assisting the police.
The police spokesman said: "The police would like to remind the public that organising or participating in a public assembly without a police permit in Singapore is illegal and constitutes an offence under the Public Order Act.
"Foreigners in Singapore are reminded to comply with our laws and heed the directions of the police and other officials. Those who break the law will be firmly dealt with."