World

Singapore, China to work together on Belt and Road Initiative

Dr Balakrishnan meets Chinese counterpart to discuss Belt and Road partnership

Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said Singapore-China relations are in "good working order", and that both countries have agreed to work together on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

"(Ties are) very strong, based on a very solid foundation that goes back four decades.

"And there is also great potential to do more together.

"(BRI) is a wonderful idea, and we have always been an early supporter of the initiative," Dr Balakrishnan told a joint press briefing in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi yesterday.

Launched in 2013, the BRI is an ambitious Chinese project to link Asia, Africa and Europe through building roads, railways, ports and industrial parks along two ancient trading routes overland and via sea.

Yesterday, Mr Wang proposed to build three platforms for cooperation between both countries as part of the BRI.

The first is a trade network that spans and interconnects China, Central Asia, Europe and South-east Asia.

The second has to do with financial cooperation, which will see China leverage on Singapore's strength as a regional financial centre to raise funds for the various Belt and Road projects.

The third is in training and technology transfer.

STRENGTHS

The two countries will work together to open up third markets in South-east Asia, South Asia and beyond, tapping on the respective strengths of both countries.

Mr Wang told reporters that China welcomes Singapore's support and participation in the BRI. He noted that Singapore is well-positioned to play an important role given its unique strategic position.

"Building the Belt and Road together will be the biggest highlight of our bilateral relations," he said.

Being partners in the BRI will add more substance to bilateral ties and bring about peace and stability in the region, he added.

It was Dr Balakrishnan's fourth meeting with Mr Wang in six months and his second visit to Beijing this year.

Dr Balakrishnan also called on Vice President Li Yuanchao and State Councillor Yang Jiechi yesterday.

Next week, both sides will hold the third round of talks for upgrading the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.

The flurry of activities indicates that ties are improving after going through a difficult patch last year.

Last September, the nationalistic Global Times criticised Singapore diplomats for raising the South China Sea issue at a Non-Aligned Movement summit in Venezuela.

Dr Balakrishnan left for Manila, where he will meet Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano today.

SingaporeChinaVivian Balakrishnan