Lee Hsien Loong
Prime Minister Of Singapore
Patron of Business China
This year marks the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China. But our friendship has deeper roots and can be traced to the exchange of visits between Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Deng Xiaoping in the 1970s. Since then, Singapore-China relations have flourished across all dimensions, including frequent high-level exchanges and strengthening economic and people-to-people links.
The Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) is our apex platform for bilateral cooperation. It is a unique arrangement that enables policymakers from both countries to communicate closely, and develop new opportunities to elevate bilateral ties. Last year, Singapore and China established the Singapore-Shanghai Comprehensive Cooperation Council (SSCCC) – our eighth provincial business council with Chinese provinces and municipalities, after that with Guangdong, Jiangsu, Liaoning, Shandong, Sichuan, Tianjin and Zhejiang.
Our economic relations have never been stronger. Singapore has been China's largest foreign investor since 2013, a remarkable feat given our size. China is also Singapore’s largest trading partner. The upgraded China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement entered into force last October. Our three Government-to-Government projects – the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park, Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city, and China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity (CCI) – continue to make good progress. These three projects, which were established in each of the last three decades, reflect the evolving nature of our mutually beneficial cooperation. Numerous other initiatives, including the China-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City and the Singapore-China (Shenzhen) Smart City Initiative have blossomed from our strong foundation of cooperation.
Singapore also cooperates with China in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) through four platforms – infrastructure connectivity, financial connectivity, third party collaboration, and professional and legal services. This has promoted better connectivity not only between Singapore and China, but also between our respective geographic regions. In particular, the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (ILSTC) under the CCI connects Western China with Southeast Asia, through Singapore, and serves as a bridge between the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
Our people-to-people links have expanded across all fronts: businesses, educational institutions, cultural organisations, non-governmental institutions, and associations. More than four million people travelled between our countries in 2018 – a 40-fold increase from 1990.
Having gained valuable experience working on the Suzhou Industrial Park with China, we were inspired to form an organisation to enable Singaporeans to strengthen relations with China through language, culture and business. Business China was born in 2007 as a result of this vision. Today, it is a key platform to promote people-to-people exchanges. It has nurtured many bilingual and bicultural Singaporeans who can help to build bridges between Singapore and China.
I am confident that Singapore and China will build on our strong foundation of cooperation to overcome the common challenges and seize new opportunities in the days ahead.
Lee Hsien Loong
Prime Minister of Singapore