ST: S'pore seeks broader, deeper ties with China - 7/02/2012

07 Feb 2012

Shanmugam making introductory visit to Beijing this week

CHINA is an extremely important partner for Singapore and a key player in the region, Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam has said ahead of his introductory visit to Beijing this week.

Mr Shanmugam, who is currently in the United States on a week-long introductory visit in his new capacity as Foreign Minister, will be visiting China from Thursday to Saturday, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) confirmed yesterday in response to media queries. The spokesman added that he will be accompanied by MFA officials.

He will meet his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi and other Chinese leaders.

'Singapore values its strong and substantive relations with China which have flourished through frequent high-level visits, strengthening economic linkages, extensive cooperation in many fields, and growing contacts between our peoples,' Mr Shanmugam said.

'I look forward to discussing with the Chinese leaders ways to broaden and deepen areas of our cooperation, on bilateral matters as well as on regional and global issues of common concern,' he added.

In a statement issued yesterday in Washington, Mr Shanmugam also disclosed that he had intended to make China his first introductory visit outside Asean but was unable to do so due to scheduling problems.

Noting that China has made phenomenal economic and social progress in the last 30 years, he said the strength and resilience of the Chinese economy has been a stabilising force and an engine of growth for regional economies.

'China's growth and prosperity not only benefits China, but also contributes to regional and global peace and stability,' he said.

'Despite the current global economic challenges, I am confident that China's economy will continue on an upward trajectory.'

Mr Shanmugam told the Associated Press in an interview last week that it was important to ensure 'constructive and cooperative' engagement with China.

He dismissed the idea that a renewed American focus in the region could lead to conflict with China 'because it is not in anyone's interest'.

'Whether it is South-east Asia, or East Asia or the world, China has a role to play, US has a role to play. And the question for the rest of us is, if they can play their roles constructively, that keeps a certain sense of harmony and that is what (we) as honest brokers tell our American friends and our Chinese friends.'

He also made clear that US engagement in the region could not be focused on just the military front.

'For the US presence to be meaningful and to be relevant, it's about being multi-faceted. And economic engagement is extremely important,' he said.

Mr Shanmugam, who is also Law Minister, cited the example of how regional countries like Singapore had benefited economically from trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the US is a part of.

Source: Straits Times

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