Singapore-China partnership will advance with times: PM Lee

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Singapore has been working with China at each step of its development, and will continue to ensure that the partnership advances with the times, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in an interview published yesterday.

Noting that China's transformation has been fast-paced, Mr Lee laid out how the Singapore-China partnership at the government level has also evolved over the past three decades.

From the Suzhou Industrial Park in the 1990s that focused on industrialisation, to the Tianjin Eco-city that emphasised sustainable development, Singapore has chosen projects meaningful to China and compatible with China's policy focus and development priorities of the time, he told Xinhua ahead of his three-day visit to China starting today.

He also noted the new Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, with its focus on modern services such as banking and logistics, plugging into China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its push to develop its western frontier.

He said the memorandum of understanding Singapore and China signed in May will spur both to deepen collaboration on the BRI to build ports, roads, railways and industrial parks along trade routes.

For instance, a Chinese company looking to expand into the region can "borrow Singapore's strengths" by setting up a regional headquarters in the Republic to take advantage of its financial centre, transportation hub, and trade and services facilities, he said.

Mr Lee also stressed that both countries have much to learn from each other.

Besides the training of officials, he cited the Singapore-China Forum on Leadership and the Singapore-China Social Governance Forum as two ongoing platforms that bring officials together to exchange views and experiences.

China's growth means many of its brands and companies, such as Huawei, possess cutting-edge technology among the world's best, and Mr Lee said he witnessed how, over the past 30 years, China's prosperity transformed all of its cities and provinces.

This "national-level transformation" has touched many aspects of Chinese society, from highways to telecommunication networks, and has also changed people's lives and outlook, he added.

He cited the cashless payments revolution as one area in which China has moved faster and gone farther than any other country, noting that for many Chinese today, an empty wallet is less a problem than a phone that has gone flat.

Mr Lee said he had shared China's example in his National Day Rally speech in the hope that it will spur Singapore to do better in its push to become a Smart Nation.

On his trip, Mr Lee will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, who will host a welcome ceremony and dinner in his honour, and top legislator Zhang Dejiang.

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