Excellent, Multi-faceted Singapore-China Bilateral Relations
By Yap Pheng Hui
Singapore and China established formal Diplomatic Relations 30 years ago. For Singapore, which has been an independent nation for only 55 years, this is a longstanding friendship, especially considering that the ties between the two countries actually go back much farther.
In 1976, founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew made his first official visit to China, where he met with leaders including Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai. After Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping visited Singapore in 1978, the relations between Singapore and China became more closely knit. Subsequently, Singapore was referenced in China’s reform and opening up policy, and Singapore witnessed and participated in China’s development and prosperity.
This special relationship between Singapore and China is also rooted in geographical proximity and cultural affinity, and the fact that developing such relationship serves a strategic purpose for both countries. As a proponent of pragmatic diplomacy, Singapore understands the importance of China’s presence in Asia.
At the same time, Singapore is keenly aware that from the perspective of national welfare, promoting win-win diplomacy with our allies must be a consistently prioritised principle. For China, working closely with Singapore at different stages of its development has proven beneficial for its continued reform and opening up, for advancing cooperation with Southeast Asia, and for improving the region’s free trade, prosperity and peace.
The global spread of the coronavirus pandemic further consolidates the firm foundation of Singapore-China relations. Our exchanges in trade, education, youth interactions, law, smart city projects, the Belt and Road Initiative, third-party cooperation, and public hygiene continue to yield new opportunities. Despite occasional differences of opinion, Singapore-China ties will definitely be able to flourish even more, based on a commitment to a regulated international order and mutual equality and respect.
Business China was the brainchild of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and a concrete symbol of Singapore’s pragmatic diplomacy. Since its inception, the organisation has been promoting exchanges in trade, culture and people between the two countries. These efforts have helped to deepen our mutual understanding, and they reflect Singapore’s belief in win-win diplomacy and a mutual desire for global peace and stability. Singapore and China share a history of mutual understanding and rapport, and that bodes well for our future abilities to make positive contributions to each other, and to the world at large.