SINGAPORE — Premier Li Keqiang called on China and Singapore to jointly uphold openness and deepen innovative cooperation ahead of his official visit to the city state starting on Nov 12.
“I am full of expectations for my first visit to this country as Chinese Premier,” Premier Li said in a signed article published in The Straits Times on Nov 12.
This is the first visit by a Chinese premier to Singapore in 11 years.
It comes three years after President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the country in 2015. The two countries established an all-round cooperative partnership progressing with the times.
In the article, titled “Creating a better tomorrow with openness, cooperation and innovation,” Premier Li said that he hopes to “work with Singaporean colleagues to take our cooperation in all areas to a new level” during his visit.
“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,” he said.
Noting that openness is a decisive factor in the development of China and Singapore, Premier Li said: “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.”
Highlighting the challenges of rising protectionism and unilateralism, the Premier called upon the two countries to jointly send a positive message of upholding the WTO-centered multilateral trading system and advancing trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.
“Together, we should work for an open world economy by advocating, practicing and upholding openness,” he added.
China’s ever-widening opening-up process has been accompanied by a constant upgrading of China-Singapore practical cooperation, which has benefited both countries, he said.
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, the Premier said.
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 center, Premier Li said.
China welcomes Singapore’s efforts to “seize opportunities created by China’s new round of opening up, working with us in elevating bilateral cooperation,” said the Premier.
Urging the two sides to seek greater synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and Singapore’s development strategies, Premier Li said: “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 the visit, China and Singapore are expected to sign a protocol on upgrading the two countries’ free trade agreement that will give a strong boost to trade facilitation, according to Premier Li.
“China welcomes more investment by Singaporean businesses in China to achieve greater common development,” he said.
Premier Li also said the two countries should “step on the accelerator” in their innovative cooperation. During his 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, he added.
In the article, the Premier also touched upon ties between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
During his stay in Singapore, Premier Li will also attend the 21st China-ASEAN (10+1) leaders’ meeting, the 21st ASEAN-China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (10+3) leaders’ meeting and the 13th East Asia Summit.
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, Premier Li said.
China 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, Premier Li said.
The Premier also expressed China’s willingness to work with ASEAN countries to speed up 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,” he said.
“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,” Premier Li said.