File Photo: Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat receives an interview with Xinhua in Singapore, May 17, 2019. (Xinhua/Then Chih Wey)
-- "Digital is the future," Heng said as COVID-19 has accelerated the digitalization process and created new opportunities for innovation.
-- A Reciprocal Green Lane for essential business and official travel between Singapore and 6 Chinese provinces and municipalities was launched in June to facilitate economic recovery.
-- As a regional trade, finance and logistics hub, Singapore can be a key partner in China's "external circulation" by facilitating the flow of goods, financing, investments and creation of partnerships between China and the rest of the world.
by Xinhua Writers Wang Lili, Xia Lixin
SINGAPORE, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat highlighted three areas for further cooperation with China -- connectivity, digitalization and sustainable development -- which will be "increasingly critical in the post-COVID world."
KEY AREAS FOR FUTURE COOPERATION
There is much potential for both sides to upgrade longstanding and multi-faceted bilateral cooperation, Deputy Prime Minister Heng underscored on the areas of bilateral cooperation in a written interview with Xinhua on Saturday, ahead of the 16th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) meeting. The JCBC is the apex bilateral cooperation platform between Singapore and China.
In his opinion, it is of vital importance that countries work together to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, notwithstanding pressures to "roll back globalization and reconfigure supply chains."
Singapore and China share a commitment to global integration and free trade, he said.
Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that Singapore was an early supporter of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is constructive for China to engage the region and beyond.
Singapore is happy to support the BRI by serving as a gateway for investment inflows and can provide financial services for sustainable infrastructure development in countries along the Belt and Road, he said.
"Digital is the future," he pointed out as COVID-19 has accelerated the digitalization process and created new opportunities for innovation.
Singapore and China can work closely together to promote policy innovation to spur cooperation in the digital economy, he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng also noted that sustainable development remains crucial in the face of emergent global challenges, such as climate change.
"We must deepen international partnerships and enable all segments of society to collaborate as we work towards a sustainable future," Deputy Prime Minister Heng said.
A rainbow appears in the sky above Singapore's Marina Bay on Aug. 24, 2020. (Photo by Then Chih Wey/Xinhua)
HEALTHCARE, ECONOMIC REJUVENATION TO TOP AGENDA OF JCBC MEETING
In Deputy Prime Minister Heng's words, the upcoming JCBC meeting is "especially important and timely."
Items on the agenda include healthcare cooperation, such as pandemic preparedness and response. Topics also include collaboration on the development, production and distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics for COVID-19.
Also to be discussed are economic rejuvenation and bilateral cooperation on China's regional development strategies, including the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) in the south, and the development of the western region in China.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng said he looked forward to working with Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng to further strengthen existing areas of cooperation and embark on new areas of cooperation.
A traveller pushes his luggage in a trolley in terminal 3 of Singapore's Changi Airport on Dec. 7, 2020. (Photo by Then Chih Wey/Xinhua)
30-YEAR DIPLOMATIC TIES
This year marks the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China.
Even amidst the pandemic, both Singapore and China have kept up the positive momentum in their exchanges and cooperation.
"COVID-19 brought our two countries closer together" as they exchanged experiences and supported each other with medical equipment and supplies to fight against the pandemic, he added.
A Reciprocal Green Lane for essential business and official travel between Singapore and six Chinese provinces and municipalities was launched in June to facilitate economic recovery.
Singapore's Asian Civilizations Museum has travelled its Tang Shipwreck Collection to the Shanghai Museum for an ongoing exhibition, which is being showcased in China for the first time.
"Our three Government-to-Government projects in Suzhou, Tianjin and Chongqing best embody the vitality of our relationship," he noted. "I believe our ability to maintain close communication and cooperation at the political, economic and people-to-people levels has led us to the strong relationship we share today."
Photo taken on Aug. 6, 2020 shows a view of southwest China's Chongqing. (Xinhua/Liu Chan)
Deputy Prime Minister Heng expressed his belief that China's new development pattern of "dual circulation" presents new opportunities for bilateral cooperation.
As a regional trade, finance and logistics hub, Singapore can be a key partner in China's "external circulation" by facilitating the flow of goods, financing, investments and creation of partnerships between China and the rest of the world, according to Deputy Prime Minister Heng.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has become China's largest trading partner for the first time in the first nine months of 2020, a testament to the potential of the economic partnership between ASEAN and China, he noted.
To further deepen ties, ASEAN member states, China and other countries have signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, and Singapore welcomes China's recent expression of interest in joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, Deputy Prime Minister Heng said.
ASEAN and China will mark the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations next year. Singapore will continue to partner with China in building bridges and strengthening regional linkages, noted Deputy Prime Minister Heng.
"I believe that a stable and prosperous China, which is well-integrated into the regional architecture, is good for Singapore and other ASEAN countries," he said.