Singapore

PM Lee: Ties with China in good state, both nations want to do more together

Singapore's relationship with China is in a good state and China's leaders want the two countries to do more together, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

At the same time, the relationship is changing as China develops and Singapore's role needs to change too for this relationship to stay meaningful, he told reporters as he wrapped up his three-day official visit to China yesterday.

Mr Lee, who met four of the seven members of China's apex Politburo Standing Committee, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, said the Chinese leaders gave positive assessments of ties and were keen on improving them.

"Bilateral relations are stable - more than stable, they are in a good state," said Mr Lee.

"We had some issues to deal with last year but this year, there have been many exchanges (including) the JCBC (Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation) meeting in February."

Singapore has an advantage over most other countries through its cultural affinity with China, but it is also necessary sometimes to flag the fact that the Republic has a distinct identity, Mr Lee noted.

"For us to take advantage of that cultural affinity and, at the same time, to be able to maintain a distinct identity and be quite clear that we are multiracial and we are not a Chinese society, that is something which we will continue to have to manage, and continue to have to try to maintain in China."

Bilateral relations are stable -- more than stable, they are in a good state. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on ties with China

This is one reason why he tries to include non-Chinese ministers or appointment holders on trips to China, he said.

"It visibly shows that we are different, but we are friendly."

Mr Lee noted that Chinese leaders, too, have devoted energy to building up relationships over the long term.

Mr Xi, for instance, visited Singapore back in the 1980s when he was vice-mayor of Xiamen.

For ties to stay robust, the private sector and individuals also have a role to play, noted Mr Lee, who said he was glad to see many Singaporeans working in China, whether for MNCs or Singapore firms.

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ChinaXi JinpingLee Hsien Loong