Singapore enjoys longstanding and substantive relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), anchored by frequent high-level exchanges, multifaceted cooperation, growing people-to-people exchanges, and robust economic ties. In 2015, Singapore and China celebrated the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and released a Joint Statement that characterised bilateral relations as an “All-Round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times”. Singapore and China are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations in 2020.
Since 2013, China has been Singapore’s largest trading partner, and Singapore has been China’s largest foreign investor. Following PRC President Xi Jinping’s State Visit to Singapore in 2015, both sides agreed to launch negotiations to upgrade the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA) which had entered into force on 1 January 2009. The upgrade of the CSFTA was concluded in November 2018 and the signing of the CSFTA Upgrade Protocol was witnessed by PM Lee Hsien Loong and Premier Li Keqiang during the latter’s Official Visit to Singapore in conjunction with the 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits. It comprised a meaningful and substantive package in terms of market access for Singapore’s export of goods and services into China, and provided greater transparency and predictability for business activities between the companies from Singapore and China.
Singapore and China have established three Government-to-Government projects, namely (a) the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park; (b) the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City; and (c) the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstrative Initiative on Strategic Connectivity. We have also established a state-level bilateral level cooperation project, the China-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City and several private sector-led, government-supported projects such as the Singapore-Sichuan Hi-Tech Innovation Park, the Nanjing Eco High-Tech Island, and the Jilin Food Zone. In addition, we also launched the Singapore-China (Shenzhen) Smart City Initiative. At the provincial level, we have eight provincial business and economic councils with Sichuan, Shandong, Liaoning, Zhejiang, Tianjin, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Shanghai. Since the mid-1990s, more than 50,000 Chinese officials have come to Singapore for various study visits and training programmes.
Despite the challenges brought about by COVID-19, both sides have maintained close bilateral cooperation. Singapore and China launched a fast lane in early June 2020 to allow for essential business and official travel with six Chinese provinces/municipalities. This fast lane was Singapore’s first with another partner, and China’s first with a Southeast Asian country.