This long-exposure photo shows festive lanterns lit up for the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival at Chinatown of Singapore, Sept. 29, 2020. (Photo by Then Chih Wey/Xinhua)
Since establishing diplomatic ties 30 years ago, Singapore and China have been developing pragmatic cooperation in various sectors including logistics, finance, culture, people-to-people exchanges, and digital connectivity.
SINGAPORE, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Singapore. Under the guidance of the leadership from both sides, the two countries have witnessed good momentum in the development of bilateral ties with pragmatic cooperation in all sectors.
LOGISTIC, FINANCIAL CONNECTIVITY
The New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor is a trade and logistics passage jointly built by western Chinese provincial regions and Singapore under the framework of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity, or Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI).
The corridor serves as a bridge between the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and helps enhance connectivity between Western China, Southeast Asia and the rest of the world.
As part of the corridor, the land-sea freight route had linked 234 ports in 92 countries and regions as of June 30 this year, according to sources with the route's operation platform.
A sun halo appears above the Merlion in Singapore on Sept. 8, 2020. (Photo by Then Chih Wey/Xinhua)
The platform also showed that 386 trips were made along the route in the first half of 2020, while the route had seen a total of 1,966 trips from its official opening in September 2017 to June 30 this year.
Goods transported along the route covered more than 350 categories including automobiles and auto parts, chemical raw materials and products, light industry and pharmaceutical products and fresh and frozen goods, according to the platform.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore must strengthen connectivity with the region and the world to facilitate the movement of goods, data and people, said Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in the FutureChina Global Forum last month.
Singapore is pressing ahead with China with the corridor. "We saw a 20 percent increase in trade volume in the first half of this year, despite COVID-19, through this corridor," Heng said at the forum.
China has been Singapore's largest trading partner and Singapore has been China's largest foreign investor since 2013, said Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday in an exchange of congratulatory message to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Photo taken on March 13, 2020 shows the financial district in Singapore's Marina Bay area. (Photo by Then Chih Wey/Xinhua)
Actually Singapore state-backed investor Temasek saw its holdings in China surpassed its home market of Singapore for the first time in the financial year ending on March 31. Its exposure to China rose to 29 percent of assets, compared with 24 percent for Singapore, according to the Temasek Review 2020 released last month.
Another highlight of China-Singapore cooperation focuses on digital connectivity in a bid to boost the development of digital economy, which has become more pertinent than ever amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first Joint Implementation Committee meeting of the Singapore-China (Shenzhen) Smart City Initiative was held online in June, during which eight MOUs were signed.
Analysts believe that the initiative would facilitate the digital collaboration between Southeast Asia and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area in south China, a region which China aims to develop into "a role model of high-quality development."
In another development, Singapore and China's Chongqing co-hosted the Smart China Expo (SCE) Online in September. Singapore was a guest of honor for the previous two sessions of the expos in 2018 and 2019.
Chief Executive of Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority Tan Kiat How (R) and IBM Asia Pacific Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman Harriet Green attend the opening ceremony of ConnecTechAsia held in Singapore on June 18, 2019. (Xinhua/Then Chih Wey)
In her speech at the SCE, Singapore's Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo noted that Singapore and Chongqing have a shared commitment to be at the forefront of digital connectivity, and digital connectivity is a key pillar of the CCI.
She noted that COVID-19 has made "going digital" central to everyday interaction.
"Digital connectivity has also enhanced physical trade and connectivity between our regions. We have worked together to make the clearance of goods more efficient" by linking Singapore's Networked Trade Platform, a one-stop trade and logistics ecosystem which supports digitalization efforts, and China's single window platform, making the exchange of digital trade documents between the two countries seamless and reduce costs for businesses, said the minister.
CULTURAL AND PEOPLE TO PEOPLE EXCHANGES
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, China and Singapore are making concerted efforts in promoting cultural and people to people exchanges.
Besides online meetings between officials of the two sides, a fast lane connecting six Chinese provinces and municipalities with Singapore was established in June in the first phase to facilitate essential business and official travel between the two countries amidst the COVID-19.
Moreover, Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, visited Singapore in August, and met with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and other senior officials.
Heng said at the FutureChina Global Forum that Yang is his first foreign visitor since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The launch of photo book "In The Founders' Footsteps: 30 years of Singapore-China Diplomatic Relations" in Singapore, Oct. 3, 2020. (Xinhua/Xia Lixin)
In a message published on the English daily the Straits Times on Thursday to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between China and Singapore and the 71st founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China, Chinese ambassador to Singapore Hong Xiaoyong said that China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been a major platform for bilateral cooperation.
Under the BRI, the third-party cooperation is well underway, and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor started to forge synergy with the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, he said.
On the cultural front, Singapore's Asian Civilization Museum (ACM) and the Shanghai Museum are jointly hosting an exhibition on shipwreck treasures from the prosperous Tang Dynasty (618 A.D.-907 A.D.), which is the first international collaborative exhibition after the Shanghai Museum reopened this year.
Speaking at a seminar held by ACM in August as a prelude to the exhibition, Singapore's Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean said that the show is particularly significant as the collection is a tangible demonstration of the long-standing historical links between China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, which continue to flourish today.
Singapore supports China's Belt and Road Initiative as it sees the benefit of enhanced connectivity and development in the Silk Road Spirit of "peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit, Teo added.■