China-Singapore ties eye a new level under PM Wong
Published: May 16, 2024 09:14 PM
Illustration:Xia Qing /GT

Illustration:Xia Qing/GT

Singapore's Lawrence Wong was sworn in as prime minister on Wednesday, succeeding Lee Hsien Loong. It is generally believed that the new government under Wong will maintain the continuity and stability of Singapore's domestic and foreign affairs.

Since the level of China-Singapore bilateral cooperation currently has reached new heights in areas such as politics, trade and commerce, and people-to-people exchanges, Beijing is happy to see the relationship between the two countries reach a new level during Singapore's new administration.

In the area of trade and economy, China and Singapore have forged strong bonds of cooperation. Singapore is one of China's major sources of investment, and China is also an important trading partner of Singapore. Cooperation in trade, finance and technology exchanges between the two countries has a solid foundation and is constantly deepening.

In the political and security area, Singapore has in recent years become the backbone of ASEAN's rational voice and an advocate of win-win cooperation on the South China Sea issue. Against the backdrop of the US increasing pressure on China to curb the latter's development, the Singaporean government has repeatedly expressed concerns over the US' attitude of treating China as a "threat."

The new Singapore government under Wong has the conditions and every reason to continue its rational and balanced diplomacy and continue to play the role of a stabilizer in regional and even international affairs.

First, Singapore will not take sides between China and the US, which is a rational choice to maximize its own interests. Former prime minister Lee and his cabinet have repeatedly expressed concern that the intense game between China and the US will impact global stability and the world economy, including Singapore's. As a key member of the previous government, Wong has previously called on China and the US to find a way to manage their differences and coexist peacefully, stressing that the US must learn to coexist with China, which is of great significance to global peace and stability.

Secondly, on sensitive regional issues such as the South China Sea issue, Singapore is expected to remain as neutral as possible and continue to make contributions to easing regional tensions. Singapore is not a claimant state in the South China Sea and insists on not taking sides in the territorial and maritime claims. It calls on all parties to open up channels of communication and resolve disputes peacefully through dialogue and consultation. 

Finally, it is expected that Singapore under the new leadership will continue pursuing a close relationship and further deepening cooperation. During Wong's tenure as deputy prime minister of Lee's cabinet, the two countries signed a number of bilateral cooperation agreements over the past few years, covering areas such as trade, investment, green economy, digital economy, food safety and finance. These agreements have contributed to the mutual benefits of both countries and have further strengthened the economic and trade relations between the two countries. This year has seen the implementation of Singapore's visa-free policy for China, which will greatly boost bilateral tourism and business exchanges. As a result, it will inject new impetus into economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, as well as create new favorable conditions for people-to-people exchanges and cooperation in the fields of education, culture, and science and technology, among others.

As a small country, Singapore has played a "big diplomatic" role in the international arena by virtue of its unique geographical location, economic strength and diplomatic strategy. By adhering to the principle of independence and autonomy, the country has been able to maintain a balance in the competition between China and the US, contribute to regional peace and stability, and create a favorable environment for China-Singapore cooperation. Cooperating with China has not only enhanced Singapore's international status, but also demonstrated its important role in the global economy. Clearly, China appreciates Singapore's adherence to multilateralism as well as rational and independent diplomacy and would like to see the relationship between the two countries go further under Singapore's new leadership.

The author is an associate professor at the School of International Studies at Nanjing University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn