Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Mar. 31.
Both leaders last met on the sidelines of the 29th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November 2022.
Upgrading bilateral relations
According to a statement from MFA, PM Lee congratulated Xi on his recent re-election as China’s president.
Both leaders agreed to upgrade bilateral relations to an “All-Round High-Quality Future-Oriented Partnership”.
They also remarked that both sides should work towards resuming flight connectivity and people-to-people exchanges to pre-pandemic levels.
Both sides noted that the partnership reflected Singapore and China’s commitment to continually expand bilateral cooperation, and pursue new collaboration in forward-looking areas such as digital and green economies.
PM Lee also commended the “strong friendship and deep understanding” between China and Singapore, CNA reported.
Saying that both countries have continued to cooperate and support one another, PM Lee noted that it is now “timely” for them to take their partnership forward.
“I’m happy to read of China’s emphasis on economic growth and resilience. I’m confident that your economy will continue to strengthen.”
“Many countries including Singapore are very keen to enhance our economic ties with China. And I hope that my visit will inject a fresh momentum for bilateral cooperation and high level exchanges between us.”
PM Lee also expressed that he was glad to visit China again, after his last visit to the country in 2019.
Xi also updated PM Lee on China’s domestic priorities and they exchanged views on regional and international developments.
The Chinese president also noted that China and Singapore share an “exemplary” relationship, which sets an example to regional countries, Straits Times (ST) reported.
Met with other top Chinese officials
PM Lee’s meeting with Xi comes after several key meetings with China’s top officials on the same day.
These included the Chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Zhao Leji, Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Wang Huning, as well as the party secretary of Beijing Municipality Yin Li.
Yin, who hosted PM Lee to lunch, noted that even though it was the first time he was meeting the latter, he had already met Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Singapore’s Ambassador to China Lui Tuck Yew multiple times, according to ST.
Referring to Singapore-China ties, the former remarked that “it is safe to say that we have very close interactions and relations”.
“I think we should continue this progression” of meeting one another frequently, PM Lee said.
In his meeting with Zhao, who is the third-ranking of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Politburo Standing Committee, PM Lee noted that China had set out forward-looking priorities during the 20th Party Congress and the recent Two Sessions.
Zhao also referred to PM Lee as an “old friend”, according to ST, as they have met on several occasions, such as in Singapore back in May 2017.
He also said that PM Lee was one of the first foreign leaders to visit China after the formation of its new government.
China-Singapore relations set a good example of “high-quality cooperation” in Asia, the NPC chairman noted.
PM Lee also met with Wang, and noted that both sides enjoyed close bilateral cooperation and mutual trust built over generations at the leadership and people-to-people levels.
They covered the government-to-government projects in Suzhou, Tianjin, and Chongqing, which have continued to progress with evolving development priorities.
PM Lee also noted that 2023 was the 15th anniversary of the Tianjin Eco-City (TEC), and both sides were working towards an expanded scope of collaboration.
Wang also updated PM Lee on the CPPCC’s work and China’s future priorities.
Official trip to China
This is the fifth day of PM Lee’s official trip to China which began on Mar. 27.
He began his trip in Guangzhou and later delivered a speech at the Opening Plenary of the Bo’ao Forum for Asia (BFA) in Hainan.
PM Lee met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Hainan’s party secretary Feng Fei.
He also had a “fruitful catch-up” with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on the sidelines of the conference.
PM Lee will be hosted to a welcome ceremony and lunch banquet by his Chinese counterpart Li on Saturday, Apr. 1 before departing from China.
Top image via MCI