SINGAPORE (Nov 15): Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong has been invited, and will attend, China’s second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2019.
A joint statement between the governments of Singapore and China was issued on Wednesday during Premier Li Keqiang’s official visit to Singapore from 12 Nov to 16 Nov.
Aside from reaffirming positive relations between the two countries, both sides notably agreed that co-operation along the Belt and Road initiative is a “new highlight of Singapore-China relations”.
The China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity–New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and a third party collaboration project will be new highlights in the bilateral cooperation.
Both sides have also agreed to strengthen connectivity across all modes of transport in support of the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as strengthen legal & judicial exchanges and cooperation in view of the importance of a rules-based business environment to support the Belt and Road, added the statement.
That being said, Premier Li thanked the Singapore Government for the warm reception during his ongoing visit, and invited PM Lee to visit China for the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2019.
PM Lee accepted the invitation.
The announcement comes after last year’s news headlines of PM Lee being noticeably absent from China’s first One Belt One Road (OBOR) summit, as he was reportedly not invited to what was touted as China’s most important diplomatic event in recent years.
Singapore was instead represented at the May 2017 event by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who at the time said the Republic did not have any specific projects that may have been part of the OBOR initiative.
PM Lee’s absence from the first OBOR summit was widely viewed by international media as a snub, leading to speculation of strained bilateral relations between Singapore and China.