Singapore—In an interview with Chinese news agency Xinhua, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong focused on the enormous growth in the relations between China and Singapore and underlined that there is still much potential for this.
PM Lee will be visiting Beijing later in the week in order to take part in the second Belt and Road Forum on April 26.
When asked about the relations between the two countries, the Singaporean leader said, “Our relations with China have transformed beyond recognition since we established diplomatic relations in 1990.
The trade has grown tremendously; China has become our biggest trading partner. According to Chinese statistics, we are your biggest foreign investor.”
PM Lee added that Singapore accounts for one-fourth of Chinese investments in the Belt and Road region.
On Singapore’s part, the city-state has invested all over China, in both rural and urban areas, the Prime Minister said. Additionally, he noted that the two nations’ government-to-government projects have focused on making a greater impact.
In the 1990s Singapore invested in Suzhou Industrial Park, with an emphasis on industrialisation. In the 2000’s, the country helped fund Tianjin Eco-City, which concentrated on sustainable development. More recently, it has had a hand in Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, in order to encourage growth in a less-developed area.
PM Lee said, “So as China’s economy has developed and your needs have changed, the projects have also evolved, and we focus on different areas.”
Concerning the Belt and Road Initiative, the Prime Minister had this to say, “Certainly on the Belt and Road, we hope to be able to play a constructive part on financial services, on third country investments, on human resource development. It is a project which will take many years to bring to fruition, probably will be one which will never have an ending point. But one which I think Singapore is well-placed to make a modest contribution.”
He added, in the context of regional cooperation, “We hope that all these will enable China to integrate constructively and peacefully into the regional economy and into the global trading and strategic system.
So, the opportunities are there.
The key is China’s overall strategy as it moves forward to develop relations with the other major powers in a constructive, stable, and mutually beneficial way, which adjusts to the changing circumstances and the changing needs of the different countries, and enables this fundamental shift in the global balance to take place in a peaceful and stable manner, which will not lead to tensions or worst, conflict.
If that can be done, then I think Singapore-China relations will prosper.”
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy and development strategy. The goal of the BRI is to restore land and sea trade routes of old, as well as to link China with Africa, Europe, and other areas in Asia via developing a network of ports, roads, railways, and industrial hubs.
“It is a project which will take many years to bring to fruition, and will probably be one which will never have an ending point,” said PM Lee about the ambitious BRI initiative, which had begun in 2013.
To date, the BRI now involves 173 deals with 125 countries and 29 international organisations.
At the second Belt and Road forum this week, the Singaporean Prime Minister will be present at a high-level meeting at Beijing’s National Convention Centre, as well as a leaders’ roundtable at Yanqi Lake in the suburb of Huairou, The Straits Times (ST) reports. Also in attendance will be Russian President Vladimir Putin, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, along with other world leaders./TISG