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SINGAPORE: Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan met Chinese leaders on Monday (Feb 20) during his visit to China and reaffirmed the strong ties between both countries.

Dr Balakrishnan is in Beijing from Feb 19 to Feb 21 at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang.

He met with Member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Secretary of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee Yin Li on Monday.

“They reaffirmed the longstanding relations between Singapore and China, which had remained strong even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

“They discussed how Singapore and Beijing can deepen cooperation in areas of mutual interest, including on the economy, research and innovation, urban planning, as well as people-to-people and cultural exchanges.” 

Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan meeting with Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Liu Jianchao on Feb 20, 2023. (Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore)

Dr Balakrishnan was also hosted to lunch by Minister of the International Department of the CPC Liu Jianchao.

Both ministers reaffirmed the “multifaceted partnership between Singapore and China”, which was illustrated by how both countries supported each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

They welcomed ongoing efforts towards the full resumption of in‑person interactions at all levels, which include “government-to-government, people-to-people and party-to-party links”, said MFA.

“Such interactions play an important role in building trust and forging mutual understanding,” the ministry added.

Dr Balakrishnan and Mr Liu also exchanged views on a wide range of international, regional and domestic developments, including the importance of good governance.

Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan with China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Qin Gang on Feb 20, 2023. (Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore)

Dr Balakrishnan also had extensive discussions with Mr Qin over a delegation meeting and dinner, said MFA.

“The ministers took stock of the substantive and forward-looking partnership between Singapore and China, anchored by institutional bilateral mechanisms such as the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation and the three government-to-government projects in Suzhou, Tianjin, and Chongqing,” said MFA.

They also noted the mutual support both countries provided each other at critical points during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both ministers affirmed their commitment to step up cooperation to tap new growth opportunities in emerging areas, such as the digital and green economies. 

“They agreed on the importance of doubling down on efforts to promote post-pandemic recovery, including through the full resumption of air connectivity and the increase of business and people flows between Singapore and China,” said MFA.

“The ministers looked forward to further high‑level exchanges between Singapore and China this year, which marks the 15th anniversary of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City.”

Dr Balakrishnan has also invited Mr Qin to make an official visit to Singapore. 

The ministers also exchanged views on recent regional and international developments. Dr Balakrishnan welcomed China’s continued interest to broaden and deepen its engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. 

They reaffirmed the critical importance of promoting peace, stability and security in the region, said MFA.