13 November 2018
For Professionals

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang: Frequent meetings between Singapore, China leaders to deepen ties among younger leaders

To build trust and friendship between Singapore and China, Singapore and Chinese leaders, especially among the younger generation, should meet frequently, said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the 44th Singapore Lecture. Mr. Li also encouraged more heart-to-heart communication across people from all sectors in both countries.He also welcomes more singaporeans to take up internships in China and encouraged more Chinese youths to do the same here.

In conjunction with the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up, and his first official visit to Singapore, Premier of the State Council of China, Mr. Li Keqiang, was invited by Business China and ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute to deliver the 44th Singapore Lecture on 13 November 2018, themed “Pursuing Open and Integrated Development for Shared Prosperity”.

In his opening remarks, Deputy Prime Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean said that the exchange of visits between Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and Mr. Deng Xiaoping “laid a strong foundation for Singapore and China’s close bilateral cooperation through successive generations of leaders on both sides, anchored by regular high-level exchanges, robust economic cooperation and strong people-to-people ties”. Today, both countries continue to work hand-in-hand in a spectrum of institutional platforms, such as in finance, legal cooperations, and the Belt and Road Initiative, which is an “important vision aimed at promoting regional integration.”

DPM Teo: Hope US and China work together to resolve differences 

Mr Teo also pointed out that The escalating cycle of tariff measures by both sides could negatively impact the multilateral trading system, and potentially impact broader relations. "As a friend of both China and the US, we hope that both sides will work together to resolve their differences, to the benefit of China, the US, and the rest of the world. " said Mr Teo.

On a question by MFA Ambassador-at-Large Chan Heng Chee on the Sino-US Trade War, Mr. Li said to a round of laughter that he had expected a question on this to come from this audience, despite leaving it out in his speech. He said that disruptions in the global industrial chain would affect global economy, which was “not something (he) wished to see.” He urged both countries to respect each other’s core interests and seek a resolution to the issue.

DPM Teo lauded Mr. Li’s accomplishments as Premier, overseeing important policies which were key in sustaining China’s strong economic momentum amidst growing global uncertainties. DPM Teo also pointed out that Mr. Li has been active on the international front, promoting China’s relationships with other countries and regional groupings, especially in fostering ASEAN-China cooperation.

In a wide-ranging speech at the 44th Singapore Lecture, Mr. Li spoke on the necessity of multilateralism and free trade, China’s economic progress over the past forty years and international cooperation. In his lecture, Mr. Li also expressed his wish to strengthen bilateral ties with Singapore and praised Singapore's role in encouraging China's reform and opening up.

"Thirty years ago, I visited Singapore for the first time, and my first impression of the country was that it was a modern country. This is my first visit to Singapore as the Chinese Premier, and I am happy with Singapore's achievements over these years," Mr. Li said.

On the Chinese economy, Mr. Li said that while its economy has undergone tremendous progress, China was fundamentally a developing country, and faced issues such as a low GDP per capita.

Noting China's rapid strides in areas such as artificial intelligence, a female student from Business China Youth Chapter, Ms Gan Yong Ting asked Mr. Li what role singaporean and other South-east Asian students can play in the development of these industries. Mr. Li said that smart city collaborations, which he had earlier discussed with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, would be a major component of bilateral exchanges in technology and innovation. He added that China looked forward to more collaborations with Singapore in the high-tech space.

Premier Li called for more investment flows from Singapore into China

To Business China Board Member Mr. Anthony Tan’s question, Mr. Li highlighted China’s continuous pursuit for global free trade. He said that the “open doors of China would not shut”, and China would ensure the continuity of the reform and opening up policy; he also urged Singaporean businesses to continue investing in China, as China strives to become more business friendly. He then reiterated his pledge for fair practices. "If your investment in China is treated unfairly, talk to our ministers present today or complain directly to me."

Business China has partnered with ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute for the first time to organise the 44th Singapore Lecture held at the St. Regis Singapore. More than 500 government officials, business leaders and representatives  around the world attended this lecture, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat and Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo. Chinese State Councillor & State Council Secretary-General Xiao Gang, Finance Minister Liu Kun and China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission Chairman Guo Shuqing also attended the event.

Mr. Li's visit coincides with the 40th anniversary of Mr. Deng Xiaoping's historical visit to Singapore. This is also the first time a Chinese Premier has visited Singapore in 11 years.