BEIJING, Dec 6 — Singapore and China reaffirmed their “multifaceted and close ties” and agreed to keep up efforts to advance mutually beneficial cooperation, said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), after Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong called on China’s Premier Li Qiang today.

They also agreed to strengthen bilateral ties between businesses and between people, the PMO said.

Wong, who is also Finance Minister, is on an official visit to China where he is expected to co-chair for the first time the annual Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) — the highest platform for both countries to review areas for bilateral cooperation.

During a bilateral meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wong and Li reaffirmed the substantive progress in cooperation and expressed satisfaction with the “strong momentum” of high-level exchanges between the two countries, said the PMO in its statement after the meeting.

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In his opening remarks, Li noted that the two countries upgraded their bilateral relationship in March.

“China stands ready to work with Singapore to pursue even more ambitious goals in our cooperation in the new era,” Li said in Mandarin.

Wong said that there has been “very good momentum” of high-level exchanges between the two countries and that he was looking forward to the JCBC forum on Thursday.

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“I think we will have a very fruitful meeting, because we are covering many topics,” said Wong, noting that there will be several ministers from Singapore attending the forum with him.

“And we will be signing more than 20 MOUs (memoranda of understanding) and agreements at our meeting tomorrow (Thursday).”

At last year’s JCBC forum, held in Singapore, the two countries inked 19 agreements, such as those relating to green development and finance, public health as well as innovation cooperation.

Today, Wong also met with Vice Premier He Lifeng.

“They welcomed the positive growth in economic and trade links between Singapore and China, and discussed ways to further broaden and deepen the scope of bilateral cooperation, including in the financial sector, such as through initiatives to strengthen market connectivity and linkages,” said the PMO.

He said in Mandarin that China and Singapore are “friendly neighbours” and “important partners for cooperation”, adding that there have been “important common understandings” reached between the leaders of the two countries.

The next steps, he said, are to “earnestly follow through on these common understandings, translate them into concrete projects and take further steps”.

“And I believe that such concretisation of the common understandings will further give a boost to the relationship,” he said.

Wong said the signing of agreements during the upcoming JCBC shows the breadth and depth of the China-Singapore relationship.

“And we’re moving in the direction of the upgraded partnership we have between our two countries, which is one that is all around high quality and future oriented,” he said.

Tomorrow, Wong and the Singapore delegation will be in Tianjin, where they are set to attend the 19th JCBC.

This year also marks the 15th anniversary of the Tianjin Eco-City, one of the flagship projects between the two governments under the JCBC. — TODAY