OPENING REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TONY TAN KENG YAM AT THE DINNER RECEPTION WITH THE SINGAPORE COMMUNITY IN BEIJING ON 2 JULY 2015
Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China
Mr Stanley Loh and Mrs Kim Loh
First of all, let me extend a warm welcome to all of you for joining me and my wife here today. I am delighted to be with all of you here in Beijing.
I am pleased to be making my first State Visit to China in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China. Our bilateral relations are excellent, anchored by deep, substantive and multi-faceted cooperation across different sectors. Our trade and investment links are particularly strong. In 2013, China became Singapore’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade growing by more than 20 times in less than 25 years. Singapore was also China’s top foreign investor for the last two years. These statistics signify the confidence of Singapore and China in each other’s future. They also reflect the ability of Singapore and Singaporeans to make an impact wherever we are, despite the small size of our country.
Over the years, one unique feature of our partnership with China is our ability to evolve our bilateral cooperation in line with the changing needs and priorities of our two countries. One good example is our second flagship Government-to-Government project, the Tianjin Eco-City. The project was first conceptualised at a time when China was starting to look at sustainable development. I made my first visit to the Tianjin Eco-City yesterday, and was truly impressed by its remarkable progress. In less than eight years, the city has been transformed from barren salt plains to a bustling community. My wife and I had the opportunity to meet some of the Singaporeans working there, who enjoy a good quality of life in a socially harmonious, eco-friendly and resource-efficient environment.
Apart from the important milestone in bilateral ties as we celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China, this year is a special year for Singapore as we celebrate 50 years of nation building. This is a time for all Singaporeans to commemorate our nation’s journey, take stock of the present, and chart our future as one people. In an increasingly globalised world, many Singaporeans have ventured overseas to live, work and study. In China, there are now around 20,000 Singaporeans working, living or studying here. As we celebrate SG50 back home, overseas Singaporeans like yourselves are not forgotten, as you continue to be an important part of Singapore. Many of you are successful leaders and professionals in various sectors. You play an important role in strengthening ties between Singapore and China with the bonds of friendship that you have formed here. I hope that you will continue to serve as a bridge and contribute to the strong ties between the peoples of our two countries.
I am pleased to see an active and vibrant Overseas Singaporeans community in China that remains connected to Singapore. Singapore is gearing up for a series of commemorative events during the Jubilee Weekend in August, and I am happy to know that distance has not diluted your patriotism and enthusiasm in celebrating Singapore’s 50 years of nation building. Our Embassy in Beijing and Consulates across China are planning many commemorative activities to mark this special occasion. I hope that you will actively join in the celebrations to commemorate this extremely significant milestone for Singapore. I also look forward to ground-up initiatives by the Overseas Singaporean community to mark this occasion, be it for small groups of fellow Singaporeans and friends. Every effort counts to building a vibrant Singaporean community here in China, and I urge you to be part of this national effort.
In closing, I would like to wish the Overseas Singaporean community in China continued success in all your endeavours. As Singapore celebrates 50 years of nation building, let us continue to build on what we have achieved as one people and one nation. My wife and I look forward to meeting with you and your family this evening to learn about your experiences here, as well as your aspirations and hopes for Singapore.