Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat co-chaired the 17th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation and Related Joint Steering Council Meetings in Singapore on 29 December 2021.
Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat co-chaired the 17th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), 22nd China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) Joint Steering Council (JSC), 13th Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City (SSTEC) JSC and 5th China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity (CCI) JSC meetings with Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China and Vice Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Han Zheng on 29 December 2021 via videoconference.
Bilateral Meeting between DPM Heng and Vice Premier Han
DPM Heng and Vice Premier Han had a bilateral meeting prior to the JCBC and related JSC meetings. They reaffirmed the excellent ties between Singapore and China, and welcomed the good progress made in bilateral cooperation despite the COVID-19 pandemic, including in traditional areas of cooperation ranging from trade and investment to financial cooperation.
With the pandemic accelerating existing structural shifts, DPM Heng and Vice Premier Han agreed to explore new areas of collaboration, in particular in digital economy and green development. DPM Heng also highlighted the importance of restoring connectivity for post-pandemic economic recovery, as well as resuming regular people-to-people exchanges, including by our businesses and students. DPM Heng noted that the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), together with Singapore Airlines, were working with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), to ensure smooth charter flight operations for the Beijing Winter Olympics which China would host in February 2022. Such cooperation demonstrated the value of working together to facilitate safe cross-border travel. Vice Premier Han expressed support for the safe resumption of cross-border travel between Singapore and China, and for officials on both sides to intensify discussions on this front.
DPM Heng and Vice Premier Han reiterated their commitment to free and open trade, and looked forward to the entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) next month, which will further deepen regional economic integration. Both sides also pledged to achieve high standards of trade and investment liberalisation through upgrading the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA). DPM Heng also welcomed China’s application to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), in accordance with the CPTPP’s rules and procedures, and welcomed China’s bid to join the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA).
17th JCBC saw 14 Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and agreements announced
The 17th JCBC meeting reviewed bilateral cooperation in the following areas: Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); economic, trade and sustainability; finance; innovation; public health, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges; as well as the China-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City, which is a state-level bilateral cooperation project. To seize the opportunities of the digital age, both sides agreed to include innovation cooperation as a new pillar of collaboration this year, covering the digital economy, smart cities, and science and technology innovation cooperation.
DPM Heng and Vice Premier Han affirmed that both sides should leverage existing bilateral projects and cooperation platforms to pursue our common interest in creating innovation-led, sustainable and inclusive growth. These were also areas of priorities highlighted in China’s New Development Paradigm and Dual Circulation Strategy. DPM Heng and Vice Premier Han agreed that both countries were well positioned to unlock new growth opportunities in green development, including circular economy, renewable energy, green finance and green infrastructure. They also welcomed the good momentum in legal and judicial cooperation. Our Supreme Courts signed an MOU on Cooperation on Information on Foreign Law, which would further develop the legal infrastructure in support of the Belt and Road Initiative.
DPM Heng and Vice Premier Han agreed that Singapore and China should continue to deepen cooperation in areas such as finance, smart cities, public health and epidemic response, human resource and talent development, social governance, nature conservation, education and cultural and tourism exchanges.
DPM Heng reiterated the importance of restoring people-to-people links for deepening mutual trust and fostering collaboration. Both sides agreed that they should continue discussions and seek progress on the safe resumption of cross-border travel between Singapore and China, as well as the mutual recognition of digital health certificates.
Fourteen MOUs and agreements were announced at the JCBC:
(a) Cooperation Plan on China-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Initiative – New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (CCI ILSTC);
(b) MOU on Urban Governance, Urban Planning and Management;
(c) MOU on Knowledge Sharing;
(d) 9th Executive Programme on Cultural Cooperation (2022-2024);
(e) MOU on “Single Window” Interconnection Consortium Blockchain;
(f) Joint Paper on pursuing Green and Low-Carbon Development;
(g) MOU on Cooperation in Competition Law;
(h) MOU on Nature Conservation;
(i) MOU on “Garden City” Project in the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco City;
(j) MOU relating to Electronic Certificates for Ships and Seafarers;
(k) MOU to Support the Establishment of the SIP International Business Cooperation Centre (Singapore);
(l) Cooperation Agreement to establish the National University of Singapore Guangzhou Research Translation and Innovation Institute;
(m) MOU to establish an exchange-traded funds (ETF) Product Link; and
(n) Announcement of collaboration on commodity derivatives.
DPM Heng and Vice Premier Han jointly unveiled the name of Le Le (叻 叻) – the first Giant Panda cub born in Singapore. The cub was born on 14 August 2021 to Kai Kai and Jia Jia – the pair of Giant Pandas which arrived in Singapore in 2012 as part of a collaboration between Wildlife Reserves Singapore and the China Wildlife Conservation Association on conservation and research.
22nd SIP JSC Meeting
The 22nd SIP JSC meeting noted that the SIP was in its third decade of collaboration, and highlighted the importance of continuing to reorient the SIP’s pathfinder role in Singapore-China collaboration, taking into account our shared interests. Both sides looked forward to enabling greater two-way cross-border services and investments by supporting Chinese companies’ internationalisation efforts and Singapore professional services firms’ expansion into China. Both sides noted the scope to deepen biomedical cooperation through the SIP and committed to strengthen people-to-people ties via two-way software exchanges.
13th SSTEC JSC Meeting
The 13th SSTEC JSC meeting commended the Tianjin Eco-City (Eco-City) for its continued achievements as a leading demonstration of green and smart development in China. The Eco-City was a pathfinder, setting standards in areas including zero waste management and the use of technology to lower carbon emissions as well as enhance public amenities and services for residents. Both sides would strengthen cooperation, aim higher and elevate the Eco-City’s high quality development in support of China’s national environmental and development objectives. This would be done, for example, by pushing boundaries to further enhance the integration of nature with the built environment as a “Garden City”, and nurture community stewardship of the Eco-City’s natural environment. The meeting also highlighted the joint efforts by both sides in the replication promotion efforts and sharing the Eco-City’s experience with other cities in China and internationally.
5th CCI JSC Meeting
The 5th CCI JSC meeting reaffirmed the CCI’s role connecting Singapore and Chongqing as mutual hubs in our respective regions, and its complementarity with China’s latest development strategies. Both sides noted the good progress made in the four priority areas of collaboration (financial services, aviation, transport and logistics, and information and communications technology) as well as the opportunities for collaboration arising from synergies across these areas. Both sides also welcomed the endorsement of the CCI-ILSTC Cooperation Plan and discussed ways to focus on new projects that were commercially viable and of mutual interest.
On the Singapore side, the JCBC and related JSC meetings were attended by Minister (Foreign Affairs) Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister (Trade and Industry) Gan Kim Yong, Minister (Transport) and Minister-in-charge (Trade Relations) S Iswaran, Minister (Education) Chan Chun Sing, Minister (Finance) Lawrence Wong, Minister (Communications and Information) and Second Minister (Home Affairs) Josephine Teo, Minister (National Development) and Minister-in-charge (Social Services Integration) Desmond Lee, Minister (Culture, Community and Youth) and Second Minister (Law) Edwin Tong, Minister (Manpower) and Second Minister (Trade and Industry) Dr Tan See Leng, Senior Minister of State (Communications and Information) (Health) Dr Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State (Culture, Community and Youth) (Trade and Industry) Low Yen Ling, Minister of State (Home Affairs) (Sustainability and the Environment) Desmond Tan, and Minister of State (Culture, Community and Youth) (Trade and Industry) Alvin Tan.
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PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE
29 DECEMBER 2021