SPEECH BY PRESIDENT TONY TAN KENG YAM AT THE SS25 RECEPTION COMMEMORATING THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF SINGAPORE-CHINA DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS ON 3 JULY 2015
Your Excellency Mr Yu Zhengsheng
Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference
Ladies and Gentlemen
My wife and I are very happy to be here today to attend this reception commemorating the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China.
Singapore and China established diplomatic relations in 1990. However, our friendship can be traced back to a much earlier time. Despite the historical and geo-strategic constraints of the Cold War era, our pioneers saw the need to constructively engage China. Then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew made his first visit to China in 1976, before the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. It was to be the first of over 30 visits Mr Lee would make to China in his political career. Soon after, in 1978, Mr Deng Xiaoping made his first official visit to Singapore. This visit inspired Mr Deng to encourage the Chinese people to learn from and do better than Singapore when he embarked on his subsequent “Southern Tour” in 1992. When China decided to open up its economy, Singapore also did its part as a close friend to facilitate China’s integration into the international community.
Since the historic exchange of visits by Mr Lee and Mr Deng, bilateral cooperation has progressed by leaps and bounds. In 2013 and 2014, Singapore was China’s top foreign investor, while China was also Singapore’s top trading partner. Singapore’s first two flagship Government-to-Government projects (G-to-G) with China, the Suzhou Industrial Park and the Tianjin Eco-city, have been held up as models for other regions in China to emulate. We are now exploring a third G-to-G project in China’s Western Region at the invitation of China’s top leaders, based on the theme of “modern connectivity and modern services”. Besides the G-to-G projects, our private sectors are also cooperating in many innovative areas like smart city development, food safety and high-tech innovation. On the immediate horizon, we are also working on upgrading the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement to build upon the strengths of our economies.
Our peoples share deep and historical connections. Following the earthquake which struck Ludian county in Yunnan Province, the Singapore community in China raised RMB3.7 million in response to the disaster. These funds will support the construction of three primary school hostels in Ludian, which will enable many children from poor families to go to school. Today, I am pleased to witness the handover of the funds for the project.
Ladies and gentlemen, 25 years is not a long time. It is remarkable how rapidly our bilateral relations have developed in breadth and depth over this short period. There remains tremendous potential to bring this relationship to greater heights as long as we remain pragmatic, constructive and creative in the way our two countries collaborate. I am excited by the prospects of what the next 25 years will bring for Singapore-China relations and, more importantly, for our two peoples. May the partnership between Singapore and China continue to prosper and flourish for many more 25 years to come!