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Thursday, August 20, 2009

China, S'pore to deepen cooperation

20 years after 'first contact'. Symbolic on many fronts. Singapore always knew China was the way and braced for impact from the time Mandarin became formalised and dialects almostly eliminate, taught Confucianism in its primary school syllabus, and always knew, that China's rise was profitable, but ultimately, inevitable. So much so alignment on so many fronts have been made, from a long time ago. Such was the vision of Lee Kwan Yew.


China, S'pore to deepen cooperation
Next year will mark 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties
By Sim Chi Yin, China Correspondent
Source - Straits Times 20 August 2009

BEIJING: China and Singapore will explore new areas of cooperation next year as they mark the 20th anniversary of their diplomatic ties, Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping told Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo yesterday.

Noting that bilateral relations are in good shape, Mr Xi said: 'We will use that as an opportunity to further push the comprehensive development of our relationship and foster new areas of practical cooperation.'

Mr Yeo, who is on an eight-day official visit to China, called on the Chinese leader at the grand Great Hall of the People in the heart of Beijing.

Congratulating Singapore on its recent National Day celebrations, Mr Xi said the country's achievements over the past 44 years have been remarkable.

'Singaporeans have worked very hard to promote political stability, economic prosperity and social harmony,' he noted.

Mr Xi, China's sixth ranked leader, is seen as likely to succeed President Hu Jintao at the ruling Chinese Communist Party's 18th national congress in 2012.

Mr Yeo, who arrived on Tuesday, agreed with Mr Xi that bilateral ties were very good.

He said his meetings in China this week would firm up preparations for two upcoming visits by Chinese leaders to Singapore.

Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan is due in the Republic next week for a series of bilateral economic meetings, including the 6th session of the China-Singapore Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation.

Mr Hu is expected in town, along with other world leaders, when Singapore hosts the Apec Leaders' Meeting in November.

In his talks with Mr Xi yesterday, Mr Yeo reiterated Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's invitation for the Chinese leader to visit Singapore, said a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement (MFA) issued yesterday.

Mr Lee had made that invitation in November 2007 when he met Mr Xi, who told him he had been to Singapore four times previously and picked up useful tips.

Mr Xi and Mr Yeo also agreed that both countries should work together to strengthen Asean-China relations, said the statement.

Earlier yesterday, in a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, Mr Yeo said Mr Wang's visit to Singapore would go beyond bilateral ties to include a session for discussing the global financial crisis, to be hosted by Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

Both foreign ministers also discussed Mr Hu's participation at the Apec Summit, said the MFA statement.

On Tuesday, Mr Yeo had called on former Chinese foreign minister Li Zhaoxing, who now heads the Chinese legislature's foreign affairs committee.

Mr Yeo flew to the western province of Qinghai last night. He will take the high-altitude train from Qinghai's capital Xining to Lhasa in Tibet today. He is scheduled to meet local leaders in both provinces.

The Qinghai-Tibet railway, which cuts through deeply frozen earth on the Tibetan plateau, is an engineering feat that was completed in mid-2006.

Mr Xi termed Mr Yeo's planned visit to Qinghai and Tibet a 'very in-depth programme'. He added with a smile that while he had been longing to go on that train ride, Mr Yeo was getting there first.