Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivered a speech on bilateral relations between China and Singapore, as well as the development of the region during the 44th Singapore Lecture organized by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.
Li expressed his wish to strengthen bilateral ties with Singapore and praised Singapore's involvement in China's reform and opening up.
"Thirty years ago, I visited Singapore for the first time, and my impression of the country is that what a modern country it is. This is my first visit to Singapore as the Chinese premier, and I am happy with Singapore's achievements during these years," Li said.
He added that this visit will help to promote China-Singapore ties to a new level.
The premier also made remarks on free trade, South China Sea issues and China's development.
On free trade
China supports and upholds free trade and is willing to make trade fairer, Premier Li said.
He emphasized that unfair trade would not be sustainable and free trade is helping in the development of globalization.
"Regardless of the changes in the international situation, China will firmly adhere to multilateralism, and persist in resolving problems through talks," he added.
"Fair and just trade is the foundation of free trade development."
China is willing to discuss with all parties on how to improve free trade development.
On South China Sea issue and ties with ASEAN countries
China hopes consultation on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) would be finished in three years, Li said.
He noted that China firmly adheres to the path of peaceful development and wants to strengthen cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
"The Chinese often say that it is better to have a close neighbor than a distant relative," he said.
Li also said he hoped to finalize a major trade pact with 15 other countries called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in 2019.
On China's development
China's development achievements are the result of the efforts of the Chinese people, Li stressed, adding that China wants to share developmental opportunities with our neighbors and others.
"Development is the root of China's solution to all problems," he said.
The premier noted that China's market has huge potential for consumption and China will deepen its reform and broaden its opening up.
The premier also gave an example of a good and steady trend of China's economy.
E-commerce giant Alibaba saw its sales hit 17 billion US dollars by mid-morning on November 11 after racing to a billion dollars two minutes past midnight, seconds after the nation's annual shopping frenzy began. Last year's total was 17.7 billion US dollars.
"China's door will only open wider," he added.
Li arrived in Singapore on Monday for an official visit and will attend the 21st China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) (10+1) leaders' meeting, the 21st ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) leaders' meeting and the 13th East Asia Summit.