Singapore backs ‘Belt and Road’

Singapore Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (pictured) says bilateral relations with China are in “good working order” and that they will work together on Beijing’s ambitious “Belt and Road Initiative”.

“[Relations] very strong, based on a very solid foundation that goes back four decades,” said Balakrishnan during his visit to Beijing.

Balakrishnan has met Wang four times in six months and visited Beijing twice this year but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong did not receive a formal invitation from China to attend a Belt and Road summit hosted by President Xi Jinping last month.

He described Beijing’s initiative as “a wonderful idea”, adding that Singapore has “always been an early supporter of the initiative”, at a joint press conference with his Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

“And I was also very intrigued … that one-third of China’s investments in Belt and Road countries has flowed through Singapore, and similarly as far as inward investments into China from Belt and Road countries, 85 per cent of that has been from Singapore. This illustrates the deep strength of our bilateral relationship,” the Lion City’s foreign minister added.

Launched in 2013, the Belt and Road project aims to link Asia, Africa and Europe through road, rail, ports and industrial parks along the historic Silk Road route and by sea.

Balakrishnan said Singapore was interested in helping establish a trade network between Central Asia, Europe and Asean and boost fiscal cooperation, using Singapore’s regional financial base to raise funds.

He also pinpointed the transfer of training and transfer.

Balakrishnan said both sides would also do their best to expedite talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a trade deal involving Asean, China, India, Japan and others.

Wang told the media that Singapore was well positioned to boost the programme because of its strategic position.

“Building the Belt and Road together will be the biggest highlight of our bilateral relations,” Wang said, adding that it would help bring peace and stability to the region. “We had in-depth talks and reached a lot of consensus on bilateral, regional issues and shared interests. Both of us are of the view that, against the background of a backlash against globalisation, China and Singapore, as the champions of regional integration, need to work together to address challenges and uphold common interests.”

Singapore Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan. Picture credit: Wikimedia