Singapore PM seeks closer ties
Updated: 2012-09-03 01:54
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrived in China for a six-day official visit on Sunday.
Lee told Chinese media in Singapore ahead of his visit that he expected the pattern of bilateral economic cooperation would change as both nations upgrade their economies.
China is upgrading itself with more sophisticated activities such as highly skilled, technology-intensive manufacturing and services in which Singapore and other more developed economies have strengths, the prime minister said.
"It’s the way the international division of labor works. When one country moves up, the others have to develop new skills to complement the new players so that we can continue to make a living for ourselves," he said.
"I see ourselves developing more capabilities, and we hope these will also be capabilities which will have a market in China and which will complement what China's doing."
Lee said he also wanted to "update himself" after visiting China in 2010 during the Shanghai Expo, and will meet Chinese leaders and visit some cooperation projects, including the Tianjin Eco-City — a flagship cooperation project between the two countries.
During his visit, Lee has been invited to give a speech at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
Lee's visit aims at improving the current bilateral cooperation and maintaining good momentum between the two countries, said Yang Baoyun, an expert on Asia-Pacific studies at Peking University.
China has learned a lot from Singapore’s development, and with China’s progress the two countries need to communicate to improve cooperation, Yang said.
The cooperation between China and Singapore has expanded quickly over the past few decades since the establishment of official diplomatic ties in 1990. Bilateral trade grew by 11.2 percent year-on-year to $63.5 billion in 2011, according to Chinese statistics.
Bilateral trade in the first half of this year reached $32 billion despite the challenging economic environment.
Singapore is the fourth-largest foreign investor for the Chinese mainland, with $6.33 billion of new investment in 2011.
Many Singaporean companies, including banks, developers, logistics firms and consumer brands, are expanding their operations in the Chinese mainland market.
Many Chinese companies are using Singapore as a platform to tap the Southeast Asian market, with Chinese investment in Singapore growing by 52 percent year-on-year to $1.07 billion in 2011.
With the weak economic recovery in the US and deep-seated fiscal crisis in the Europe, Lee urged the Asian economies to work together to make up for the lack of demand from the West.
Lee said he is impressed with China’s progress over the past few decades, which has also benefited the whole region. Singapore has good economic and political relations with China, and it tries to "exercise a moderating influence" in preventing frictions in the South China Sea from developing into conflicts.
Singapore plays an important role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and it doesn’t want to see the process of ASEAN integration hindered by the South China Sea issue, Yang said.