Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli started a three-day official visit to Singapore Monday, during which he will chair annual meetings of China-Singapore cooperation mechanisms.
Zhang's visit came at a time when the two countries are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and when Singapore becomes coordinator for the ASEAN-China Dialogue.
Over the past 25 years, bilateral cooperation has generated significant results in a wide range of areas such as economy and trade, finance, science and technology, education, environmental protection, personnel training and social governance.
The cooperation, in line with the strategic interests of the two countries and the development trend of ties between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has made great contributions to the development of both the China-Singapore and the China-ASEAN relations.
Now China and Singapore are facing new opportunities for cooperation while exploring new areas for cooperation. First, a third inter-governmental cooperative program is expected to become a flagship project in the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative.
The "Belt and Road" initiative was put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 to promote connectivity, cooperation and common prosperity along the ancient land and maritime Silk Road trade routes.
The third cooperative project, expected to be located in the west of China, has great significance for the less developed region as it will promote the economic development and lower the costs for investment and businesses there. In fact, this project builds on a sound basis for bilateral cooperation laid by the previous two cooperative projects -- the Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Ecocity.
Established in East China's Jiangsu Province in 1994, the 278-square km Suzhou Industrial Park, the largest cooperative project between China and Singapore, has become a paradigm for bilateral cooperation. The park has so far attracted 26.7 billion U.S. dollars of foreign investment into 5,200 programs. More than 90 of the Fortune top 500 enterprises have invested in the park.
Meanwhile, Tianjin Ecocity, located in North China's port city of Tianjin and inaugurated in 2008, is expected to become a model for sustainable development. By 2017, all infrastructure facilities and environmental programs will be complete, with a view to a population of 350,000. Second, the free trade agreement between China and Singapore, as a pioneer for the China-ASEAN free trade area, is important for the development of the whole region. China and Singapore are expected to accelerate negotiations on upgrading their bilateral free trade agreement signed in October 2008.
Negotiations could touch upon tariff reduction and exemption as well as expanding traditional areas for cooperation to service trade and finance. Besides, as China is conducting cooperation on production capacity with developing countries including ASEAN countries, Singapore, an international financial and commercial center with unique advantages in geography, finance and services, can participate in the process in the form of trilateral or multilateral cooperation to promote the common development of the region.
With great potentials, it is believed that China and Singapore will further consolidate their comprehensive cooperation, setting an example for China-ASEAN cooperation.