China, Singapore Agree to Step Up Belt & Road Cooperation

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng and Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat visit an exhibition hall themed China-Singapore initiative on connectivity in southwest China's Chongqing, Oct. 15, 2019. (Xinhua/Liu Weibing)

CHONGQING (Xinhua) — China and Singapore on Tuesday announced that the upgraded version of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement will take effect on Oct. 16.

The two sides made the announcement after four bilateral cooperation mechanism meetings co-chaired by Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng and Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in Chongqing.

The four meetings were the 15th China-Singapore Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation Meeting, the 20th China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Joint Steering Council Meeting, the 11th China-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Joint Steering Council Meeting and the third China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity Joint Steering Council Meeting.

During the meetings, the two sides comprehensively reviewed the implementation of the high-level consensus and the process of practical cooperation.

The two sides exchanged views on the high-quality joint construction of the Belt and Road, promoting regional development and cooperation, and upholding multilateralism and free trade, and made plans for the direction and focus of their cooperation in the future.

The two sides agreed to enhance connectivity, financial support, third-party cooperation, law and judicial cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, increase investment in the new land-sea corridor and promote upgrading of major cooperation projects.

The two sides agreed to improve regional free trade arrangements, promote regional integration, enhance multilateral economic and trade cooperation, and push forward the building of an open world economic system.

Prior to the four meetings, Han met with Heng.

Commending the positive development momentum of bilateral relations, Han, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, called on the two sides to implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries that have established strategic guidance of the development of bilateral relations. The two countries should make good use of the mechanism meetings to deepen cooperation in various fields, Han said.

“China’s reform will not stop, but will only accelerate. China’s door of opening-up will not be closed, but will only open wider,” said Han, adding that China welcomes Singapore to participate in its process of reform and opening-up in a larger scope, wider areas and at a deeper level.

Han said China and Singapore must work with each other to guard against the headwinds of unilateralism and protectionism, and resolutely safeguard the international system based on multilateralism and international laws, with the UN as its core.

Heng extended congratulations on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and spoke highly of China’s great development achievements.

He said the friendship between Singapore and China has remained unshakable and become increasingly stronger over the years.

Heng said Singapore attaches great importance to the building of cooperation mechanisms and is ready to work with China to promote cooperation to a new height and to upgrade bilateral relations to a new level. Singapore stands ready to work with China to jointly safeguard the rules-based multilateral trading system and address global challenges.

After the mechanism meetings, Han and Heng witnessed the signing of a series of cooperation documents covering exchanges and training, technological innovation, smart city and intellectual property.