On Nov 12, The Straits Times published a signed article by H.E. Premier Li Keqiang, titled “Creating a better tomorrow with openness, cooperation and innovation”. The full text is as follows:
Creating a better tomorrow with openness, cooperation and innovation
Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
Singapore is regarded by many as a country of distinct charms. This is not only because of its beautiful scenery and international reputation as the Garden City. More importantly, as a young nation, Singapore has managed to overcome the constraints of limited natural endowments and developed itself into a major global financial and shipping hub.
I am full of expectations for my first visit to this country as Chinese Premier. I extend to the Singaporean people sincere greetings and goodwill from the Chinese people.
China and Singapore have developed close interactions and made steady progress in our cooperation across the board. During President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Singapore in 2015, we established an all-round cooperative partnership progressing with the times.
During my visit, I hope to work with Singaporean colleagues to take our cooperation in all areas to a new level.
Confucius rightly pointed out that “The man of perfect virtue is one who, desiring to turn his own merits to account, helps others to turn theirs to account.”
Singapore has China’s sincere congratulations on all your achievements and best wishes for even greater success in the future. We hope China and Singapore will see each other’s development as an opportunity, as we believe that win-win cooperation will bring about development for China, Singapore and all other countries, making the world a better place.
When we look back, we cannot but identify openness as a decisive factor in the development of both our countries.
What China has achieved in the past four decades is attributable to its opening-up policy and its endeavours to integrate itself into the global trade system and the world economy. Likewise, it is open and free trade that has underpinned the growth and prosperity of Singapore, which is built for trade.
Openness must be upheld as it is not just a means to an end, but a tenet in its own right, which will be more firmly embraced through tests and trials.
Faced with the challenges of rising protectionism and unilateralism, we need to join hands to send a positive message of upholding the World Trade Organisation-centred multilateral trading system and advancing trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation. Together, we should work for an open world economy by advocating, practising and upholding openness.
Openness is inclusive in nature, otherwise it will not endure. Singapore is an inclusive multicultural society with amicable coexistence of different ethnic communities, religions and cultures.
Similarly, the Chinese value “harmony without uniformity” as well as inclusiveness. In fact, reform and opening-up is in itself a process of mutual learning with other countries. Inclusiveness is also an inherent part of how we conduct ourselves, as both our countries follow the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence in handling state-to-state relations and support the ASEAN Way in promoting regional cooperation.
China’s ever-widening opening-up process has been accompanied by constant upgrading of China-Singapore practical cooperation, which has benefited both countries.
Learning from Singapore’s success has been part of China’s reform and opening-up, while Singapore has also benefited from its in-depth involvement in this process. China has been Singapore’s biggest trading partner for a fifth consecutive year, and Singapore is China’s largest source of foreign direct investment growth, second largest investment destination and an important offshore renminbi centre.
China has opened its door to the world; we will never close it but open it even wider. We welcome Singapore’s efforts to seize opportunities created by China’s new round of opening-up, working with us in elevating bilateral cooperation.
To seek greater synergy between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Singapore’s development strategies, we will work to build the three cooperation platforms on connectivity, financial support and third-party cooperation, speed up higher-quality development of the Suzhou Industrial Park, Tianjin Eco-City and Chongqing Demonstration Initiative for Strategic Connectivity, and continue to advance the building of the New Land-Sea Corridor.
During my visit, a protocol to upgrade the China-Singapore free trade agreement will be signed, which will give a strong boost to trade facilitation. China welcomes more investment by Singaporean businesses in China to achieve greater common development.
Innovation is essential to a country’s development. As we seek to deepen win-win cooperation, we need to step on the accelerator in our innovation cooperation. During my visit, the two sides will upgrade the Guangzhou Knowledge City to a national-level project and expand cooperation in technological innovation, high-end manufacturing and intellectual property rights protection.
With 2018 being the China-Asean Year of Innovation, China will take an active part in the development of the ASEAN Smart Cities Network in support of Singapore’s initiative.
For the past three years, Singapore has played an active role in facilitating China-Asean cooperation as the country coordinator. We firmly support the building of the ASEAN Communities and ASEAN centrality in regional cooperation.
We will work with all relevant parties to expedite the negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and contribute to the success of the summits on East Asian cooperation. We will work with ASEAN countries to speed up the consultations on the Code of Conduct text and jointly uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea. China and ASEAN should work together to forge a closer community with a shared future and promote peace and prosperity in East Asia.
As an ancient Chinese adage advises, “If one can make things better for one day, he should make them better every day.”
Looking ahead, China will work with Singapore to uphold openness and inclusiveness, advance cooperation for mutual benefit, and create an even brighter future for China-Singapore relations and China-Asean cooperation.