President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have written to People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping on the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The text of the letters is appended.
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MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
24 FEBRUARY 2020
Letter from President Halimah Yacob to People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping
24 February 2020
His Excellency Xi Jinping
People’s Republic of China
On behalf of the people of Singapore, I offer my deepest condolences to the families which have lost loved ones to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). I also wish those who have been affected by the outbreak a swift recovery and an expeditious return to their normal daily lives.
Your Excellency has mounted swift, decisive and comprehensive measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak and safeguard the health of your people, which is highly commendable. These measures are beginning to yield encouraging and positive outcomes. I am confident that under your able leadership, China will overcome COVID-19 with strength and fortitude.
During this difficult period, Singapore stands in solidarity with China, and supports China’s efforts to combat COVID-19. As part of a whole-of-Singapore effort, the Singapore Red Cross, with our Singapore trade associations and chambers, companies and local community organisations, launched a public appeal to raise funds to provide humanitarian assistance to the affected communities in China. The Singapore Government contributed medical equipment, supplies and diagnostic test kits for COVID-19, as well as seed money to a humanitarian fund which has already raised more than S$6 million to date. I hope that our modest contributions have brought some comfort and relief to those affected by the virus.
International cooperation is crucial to effectively combatting COVID-19, a disease which respects no boundaries. It is to China’s credit that its willingness to work with the international community has allowed us all, including affected countries like Singapore, to develop test kits and come up with appropriate measures to manage the outbreak together. The Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Laos on 20 February 2020, which saw good discussions on the regional response to the COVID-19 outbreak, is a strong sign of how our countries are working together robustly against this transboundary challenge.
I would also like to express my appreciation to the Chinese government – in particular the Hubei government – for its facilitation of Singapore’s efforts to repatriate our nationals and their dependents from Hubei. I am also glad that we were able to assist with the repatriation of Chinese nationals in Singapore back to Wuhan. This is a testament to the strong cooperation between our countries.
Singapore and China share a deep and longstanding friendship. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year, we have much to look forward to in the future. I am confident that with your strong support, our two countries will continue to build on this firm foundation to further deepen and broaden the multifaceted cooperation between our two countries.
Please accept my best wishes, and I look forward to meeting you again in Beijing during my State Visit to China this year.
Letter from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping
24 February 2020
Dear President Xi,
On behalf of the Government of Singapore, I wish to express our solidarity with the Chinese people during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and to convey our deepest sympathies on the loss of lives caused by the disease. For those who remain ill, I wish them a swift and full recovery.
Singapore shares China’s resolve to fight COVID-19. We have been cooperating closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO), China and other affected countries. We have seen how speedily China has mobilised itself to contain the spread, and implemented practical measures to help people affected, both in Wuhan and the rest of China. We applaud China’s firm and decisive response, and are happy to see early indications that it is beginning to bring the outbreak under control. I am confident that with your leadership, and the support of the Chinese people and the international community, China will succeed in this urgent task.
Singapore too has been affected by COVID-19. We have introduced restrictions and stepped up detection at our borders. We have implemented strict quarantine procedures. And we have strengthened our healthcare system, to treat and care for those who have contracted the virus. Many COVID-19 patients, including a significant number of Chinese citizens, have recovered well in our hospitals and been discharged.
Singapore is cooperating with China on multiple levels. Our shared experience fighting the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 taught us that countries have to work with one another to deal with a global public health crisis. Thus we cooperated closely on the repatriation of each other’s nationals. Singapore responded to China’s early request for personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies and diagnostic test kits. The Government also contributed to an effort by the Singapore Red Cross to raise funds for humanitarian assistance to affected communities in China. That effort has raised over S$6 million so far.
Looking ahead, researchers from Singapore’s National Research Foundation, universities and companies are ready to collaborate with their Chinese counterparts to share expertise and discoveries, and work towards a vaccine and an effective treatment for the virus. I am happy that Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Vice Premier Han Zheng have agreed to discuss cooperation in the management of public health crises at the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC).
Singapore is also cooperating on a regional basis with China and other neighbouring countries to counter the outbreak. The recent Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on COVID-19 in Vientiane was a positive sign of regional solidarity. Singapore supports China’s proposal for ASEAN and China to continue our discussions on this subject at the Leaders’ level on an appropriate occasion in the future.
While there are similarities between COVID-19 and SARS, there are also significant differences. The scientists report that COVID-19 is probably more infectious than SARS, but less lethal. Consequently, it may take longer to bring under control, and is more likely to become endemic in human populations.
Even as countries take strong measures to contain the disease in the early phases, we should begin exploring how over the longer term we can best manage the health effects of the virus on our people, while progressively restoring economic activities and international trade and travel. Singapore has some ideas, which my Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan shared with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi when they met in Laos last week. Our officials can discuss this further.
Singapore and China mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year. Our continued close cooperation in meeting common challenges testifies to our strong and steadfast friendship.
I send my best wishes for your continued success, and look forward to meeting you again soon to discuss these and other issues.
LEE HSIEN LOONG
His Excellency Xi Jinping
People’s Republic of China