China and Singapore held three annual meetings of bilateral cooperation here on Tuesday, agreeing to speed up the negotiations of a third intergovernmental project so as to launch its construction at an early date.
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli and Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean co-chaired the 12th meeting of China- Singapore Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), a high- level institutional mechanism established in 2003 to oversee the entire range of bilateral cooperation.
Viewing the new project to be located in western China "a strategic cooperation project between the two countries," both sides hope that the cooperation could form a network and radiate the vast western part of China in order to promote local social and economic development.
China and Singapore currently have two flagship projects - the Suzhou Industrial Park in east China's Jiangsu province and the Tianjin Eco-city in north China's port city of Tianjin.
According to Chinese Ambassador to Singapore Chen Xiaodong, the third project will focus on connectivity, modern logistics and finance.
Zhang's entourage included officials from Chongqing Municipality, an economic hub along the Yangtze River in western China, sources close to the meetings said.
The two sides also reached broad consensus on issues, including the upgrading of a bilateral free trade agreement, economic transformation, financial cooperation, cultural and people-to- people exchange as well as sustainable development at the JCBC meeting.
During the meeting, Zhang said China and Singapore are facing great opportunities as the two mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties this year.
"The main task of the JCBC meeting today is to implement the consensus reached by the Chinese and Singaporean presidents at their meetings not long ago, comprehensively sum up the outcomes of cooperation and push forward new progresses of key projects," the vice premier said.
Singaporean President Tony Tan Keng Yam paid a week-long state visit to China from June 29 to July 4.
Zhang said China's economy has entered a period of new normal as the economy has shifted gear from the previous high speed to a medium-to-high speed growth, while Singapore is at a vital stage of further upgrading its economy.
China is willing to provide more opportunities to Singapore and other countries in hopes of promoting the healthy and stable growth of the regional and global economy, Zhang said.
He added that China would like to work with Singapore to discuss the strategic cooperation in the new era and deepen existing cooperation so as to forge ahead bilateral ties of mutual benefit.
For his part, Teo said bilateral cooperation has expanded in terms of range and content in the past 25 years, with the establishment of model projects like the Suzhou Industrial Park and the Tianjin Eco-city.
Singapore is ready to work with China to give full play to the bilateral cooperation mechanisms and explore new areas of cooperation, Teo said, adding that his country will always support the construction and development of the intergovernmental projects.
Also on Tuesday, Zhang and Teo presided over the 17th China- Singapore Joint Steering Council Meeting for the Suzhou Industrial Park and the eighth China-Singapore Joint Steering Council Meeting for the Tianjin Eco-city.
Both sides reviewed the achievements the two projects have scored so far and set up new goals and tasks for the next stage.
They agreed to establish an overseas investment service platform in the Suzhou Industrial Park, and turned the Tianjin Eco- city into an innovation-driven exemplary zone of green development.
After the meetings, the two countries signed four documents of cooperation, including the establishment of a China Cultural Center in Singapore.
As annual meetings of the three vice-premier-level mechanisms, all the talks are held in China and Singapore alternately. The meetings were held in Suzhou last year.
China is now Singapore's No.1 trading partner while Singapore is China's largest investment source.
Statistics from the International Enterprise Singapore show that two-way trade between China and Singapore grew to 95.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2014, up from 2.8 billion dollars in 1990.