SINGAPORE: A 30-day mutual visa-free arrangement between Singapore and China is underway and may be implemented by early next year. This was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, who is currently on an official visit to Beijing and Tianjin. Mr Wong noted that flights between Singapore and China are now nearly at the level before the pandemic as relations have progressed.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore also said on Dec 7 that MAS and the People’s Bank of China are working on a pilot programme for travellers from China and Singapore to use China’s e-CNY digital currency in the two countries. “The 30-day mutual visa exemption arrangement between our two countries will also support such progress, which can promote more personnel exchanges and strengthen the cornerstone of bilateral relations,” Lianhe Zaobao quoted Mr Wong.

The Vice Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Ding Xuexiang, invited DPM Wong for a visit from Dec 5 to 8. Mr Wong and Mr Ding are co-chairs of the 19th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) in Tianjin on Thursday (Dec 7) at the Hilton Tianjin Eco-City hotel.

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When the visa-free travel arrangement was announced, Mr Ding pointed out that over 40,000 students from China are now studying in Singapore and added that the arrangement would “provide greater convenience for people-to-people exchanges”.

At present, Singaporeans may visit China for 15 days without a visa. Chinese citizens, however, are required to apply for a visa to visit Singapore.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement about the mutual visa exemption agreement that “both countries will work out the implementation details of the mutual 30-day visa exemption arrangement and implement it in early 2024.”

MFA added in its statement that Mr Wong will be meeting Singaporeans in Beijing and will also call on the Premier of the State Council, Mr Li Qiang. Separate meetings with the Vice Premier of the State Council, He Lifeng, and Minister of Finance Lan Fo’an are also on the Deputy Prime Minister’s schedule for his China trip.

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A sizable delegation is accompanying Mr Wong in China, including Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Communications and Information and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, and others.

Read related: China pushes for bilateral visa-free agreement with Singapore /TISG