Singapore

Singapore to promote stronger ties between Asean and China

China has always placed great importance on bilateral ties with Singapore, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who arrived for a three-day official visit yesterday.

The relationship is built on a foundation of mutual respect and equal footing, Mr Li said, and this has benefited the people of both countries.

Mr Lee thanked him for extending a warm welcome and said he was grateful for Mr Li's attention to bilateral ties.

The two held a 45-minute meeting in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, which was preceded by an official welcome ceremony.

They welcomed the good progress made in negotiations for the upgrade of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and discussed the potential for deepening bilateral ties through new areas of cooperation, such as in financial and judicial and legal cooperation.

Mr Li, who last met Mr Lee at the Asean Summit in Laos a year ago, welcomed Singapore's support for China's Belt and Road Initiative.

The two noted the potential of the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, their countries' third government-to-government project, to link the land and sea-based trade routes.

On Asean-China ties, Mr Lee told Mr Li that Singapore will promote stronger cooperation between the two sides when it takes over as Asean chair next year.

At a press conference for international media, Mr Bai Tian, vice-director of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Asian department, said both sides pledged to strengthen cooperation at all levels.

Mr Bai said Mr Lee's visit sends a "very important political signal", given that China will be holding a key political meeting soon.

The Communist Party of China will convene its 19th Party Congress starting on Oct 18, a twice-a-decade reshuffle of the top echelons of the leadership.

"For Singapore to visit on the eve of the meeting shows that both sides have maintained high-level visits at a good momentum, and is a very important political signal," Mr Bai said.

Mr Lee will today meet President Xi Jinping, parliamentary chief Zhang Dejiang and Mr Wang Qishan, who heads the party's commission for discipline inspection.

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ChinaLee Hsien LoongXi Jinping