Singapore-China ties: A progressive partnership
Updated: 2016-02-29 08:06
By Vivian Balakri Shnan(China Daily)
As China develops, its role in the regional and global system also evolves. Singapore remains a strong proponent of China's integration into the international community. We welcome and support China's new initiatives such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Belt and Road Initiative.
Singapore and China also work closely to promote regional cooperation. This year marks the 25th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations. Over the years, ASEAN-China relations have grown rapidly, based on the principles of mutually beneficial cooperation and ASEAN centrality. ASEAN-China cooperation is substantive and broad-based. We just upgraded the ASEAN-China FTA and will have a commemorative summit this year. We also designated 2016 as the year of ASEAN-China educational cooperation. Both ASEAN and China have a strategic interest in maintaining a peaceful, stable and thriving neighbourhood.
As the current ASEAN-China dialogue relations coordinator, Singapore will work objectively with all parties to promote positive and forward-looking ASEAN-China relations. This includes sensibly managing the territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea between China and some ASEAN member states. As a non-claimant state, Singapore does not take positions on the claims. We encourage the claimants to exercise self-restraint and resolve their differences peacefully in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The South China Sea is a vital lifeline for the region's survival. All countries whose trade passes through the South China Sea, or whose ships or aircraft use the South China Sea, have a legitimate interest in upholding the right of freedom of navigation and overflight, and international law. As directed by our leaders, ASEAN and China should fully abide by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and expeditiously conclude a Code of Conduct.
Singapore-China relations have come a long way. We are old friends, and China knows that Singapore will always remain steadfast to our old friends. Singapore consistently adheres to our "one-China" policy. The historic meeting between Xi Jinping and Ma Yingjeou in Singapore last year reflects the strong foundation of mutual trust that underpins our bilateral relations, and Singapore's hope to help foster the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations.
We have many high-level exchanges that will further strengthen our close ties. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has visited China almost every year since becoming prime minister. I look forward to working with our Chinese friends to build on our special friendship, which is based on mutual trust, respect and understanding established by generations of leaders, and to take our partnership to greater heights.
The author is Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Singapore.
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