Saturday, September 8, 2012

China, Singapore should cooperate: China's vice-premier Li

CHINA - China and Singapore should seize the opportunity to boost cooperation in areas such as emerging industries and innovation management, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday.

Li made the remarks at a meeting with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who concluded a six-day visit to China on Friday.

China is willing to enhance political mutual trust with Singapore, in order to understand and respect each other's core interests and major concerns, and strengthen communication and coordination on important international and regional issues, Li said.

He also called for more pragmatic local cooperation between Singapore and China, especially with China's Midwest and Northeast regions.

The two sides signed two cooperation agreements between Singapore and China's Northeastern Jilin province on Thursday.

Noting that Singapore has always viewed China's development as an opportunity to develop itself and the region, Lee said that Singapore hopes that China succeeds and wants to share the dividends of China's continuous prosperity.

Lee also said Singapore is willing to explore more ways to cooperate with China.

"China's growth story is impressive and has benefited the entire region, overshadowing the recent friction created by the South China Sea issue," said Satish Bakhda, Head of Operations at Rikvin, a major employment agency in Singapore.

"The Singapore government, with all its ASEAN partners, is working overtime to resolve these issues, to get our growth story back on track, which is a good sign," Bakhda said.

Political trust between China and Singapore, which is a major member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, will help to reduce the doubts of other ASEAN members about China and ease tensions in the South China Sea, said a commentary on the website of the China Review News Agency based in Hong Kong.

The ASEAN should adopt a "neutral and forward-looking" position on South China Sea disputes and encourage parties involved to solve the issue through peaceful means, Lee said on Thursday when addressing senior officials at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

"First, it's in Singapore's interests to see international disputes settled in accordance with international laws and in particular, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Second, navigational freedom is another fundamental interest since trade and waterways are a lifeline for Singapore."

Lee began his third visit to China since taking office in 2004 in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Sunday afternoon, and continued to Tianjin.

Trade between Singapore and China surged after the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1990.

Singapore is China's third-largest trading partner among ASEAN member states. Trade in 2011 reached US$63.48 billion (S$78.5 billion), up 11.2 per cent.

The Singapore-Sichuan High-tech Innovation Park, Tianjin Eco-city, Suzhou Industrial Park and the Raffles City mixed development project by CapitaLand in Sichuan province are some of the recent flagship projects.

Also, a giant panda couple, Kai Kai and Jia Jia, arrived in Singapore on Thursday on a 10-year loan.

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