by Xinhua Writer Shi Xiaomeng
BEIJING, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- With Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong beginning his official visit to China on Tuesday, the two countries are expected to discuss deepening cooperation in various sectors.
During the visit, which concludes on Sept. 21, Lee will meet Chinese leaders to exchange views on bilateral ties and issues of common concern.
He has spoken positively about the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China, calling it an approach to closer cooperation between China, its neighbors and its trade partners.
In January 2016, China and Singapore launched a joint project, the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI), to link western China and southeast Asia through Chongqing, a municipality in western China.
The CCI will develop a more direct and shorter trade route between western China and Southeast Asia, thereby lowering logistical costs, enhancing cross-border trade flows, and catalyzing the economic development of both regions.
Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has said that the CCI can provide financial services to regional projects and offer personnel training programs to countries along the route. This can be one of the aspects for further cooperation between China and Singapore.
Besides the CCI, there are two other substantial government-to-government cooperative projects between the two countries. These are the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park established in easter-central Chinese province Jiangsu in 1994, and the China-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city 150 km from Beijing, founded in 2008.
There is also a tradition of longstanding exchanges between the business enterprises and civil societies of the two countries.
With such a long tradition of close cooperation, China and Singapore have been sharing common interests, have gained rich experience, and will find opportunities to upgrade their relationship, which will benefit the region and beyond.
For example, both China and Singapore are supporting free trade against the backdrop of rising anti-globalization in parts of the world. The two are negotiating to upgrade the free trade area agreement, which, at this moment, is more critical than ever.
Moreover, Singapore will become the rotating president of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) next year. If it can act as a coordinator between China and ASEAN, the two sides will have a chance to upgrade their partnership to a higher level and promote regional development.
Looking ahead, for China and Singapore, there is much more to come.