two men in a formal suit standing and talking in in front of China and Singapore flag
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left) with China Premier Li Qiang at the Great Hall of the People on April 1. Photo: Lianhe Zaobao

Singapore PM Lee’s official meeting with the Premier of State Council of the People’s Republic of China kicked off on an optimistic note with the signing of several MoUs for deeper cooperation between the two nations

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met Premier Li Qiang on 1 April 2023 at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Prime Minister Lee was also hosted by Premier Li to a Welcome Ceremony and Lunch Banquet.

Both leaders reaffirmed Singapore and China’s strong cooperation and longstanding ties. They welcomed the upgrade of bilateral relations to an “All-Round High-Quality Future-Oriented Partnership”. They commended the good progress made by the projects between both countries, such as the three Government-to-Government projects in Suzhou, Tianjin, and Chongqing.

The leaders discussed how Singapore and China could further expand and deepen collaboration, including in areas such as air connectivity, digital economy, green development, financial cooperation, and energy and food security. Prime Minister Lee and Premier Li welcomed the substantive conclusion of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Subsequent Negotiations, and looked forward to the signing later this year. The Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) is the apex bilateral cooperation platform which will continue to steer collaboration under the upgraded partnership.

Prime Minister Lee expressed in-principle support for China’s interest in joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). It is important for China to meet and adhere to the high standard rules and comprehensive market access commitments, as expected of all CPTPP members. This has to be worked out between China and all CPTPP members, on the basis of consensus. Prime Minister Lee also welcomed China’s application to the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA), in accordance with the rules and procedures of the agreement.

Premier Li updated Prime Minister Lee on his priorities for China, which includes continuing with China’s reform and opening-up and ensuring high-quality development. Prime Minister Lee and Premier Li agreed to step up party-to-party engagements.

Both leaders also exchanged views on regional and international developments. They took stock of the strong momentum in ASEAN-China relations, and looked forward to more substantive and practical cooperation that would benefit both regions and peoples.

After the meeting, Prime Minister Lee and Premier Li witnessed the signing of the following Memoranda of Understanding (MOU):

(a) MOU to Announce the Substantive Conclusion of the Subsequent Negotiations on the Upgrade of China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement between the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)

(b)MOU on Cooperation in Import and Export Food Safety between the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the PRC General Administration of Customs

(c)MOU on the Management of International Commercial Disputes in the Context of the Belt and Road Initiative through a Litigation-Mediation-Litigation Framework between the Supreme Court of Singapore and the PRC Supreme People’s Court

(d)MOU on Joint Support for Flagship Projects in Science and Technology Cooperation between the National Research Foundation and the PRC Ministry of Science and Technology

(e)MOU between the National Arts Council and the China National Arts Fund

(f) MOU on Wetlands and Mangroves Conservation between the National Parks Board and the PRC National Forestry and Grassland Administration     The Embassy of the Republic of Singapore in Beijing and the Beijing Municipality Government also signed an MOU on Strengthening Singapore-Beijing Cooperation and People-to-People Exchanges on 31 March 2023.

Sourced from Ministry of Foreign Affairs site