19 December 2023

On 7 December 2023, the Prime Minister’s Office Singapore (“PMO”) published a press release on the 19th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (“JCBC”), which Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong (“DPM Wong”) co-chaired with Vice Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Ding Xuexiang (“Vice Premier Ding”), and related Joint Steering Council (“JSC”) meetings.

Bilateral cooperation

DPM Wong and Vice Premier Ding reaffirmed the excellent ties between Singapore and China following the upgrading of the relationship to an “All-Round High-Quality Future-Oriented Partnership” earlier this year. Also reaffirmed was both countries’ commitment to continue making full use of the JCBC as the apex platform to review and chart the strategic direction for bilateral cooperation. DPM Wong and Vice Premier Ding noted the impact of global geopolitical tensions, climate change and the digital revolution on lives and livelihoods and tasked the relevant officials to continue their collaborations in areas that would enhance both countries’ readiness and ability to address such challenges, such as agriculture and food security, renewable and marine energy, and green and digital shipping.

The JCBC meeting reviewed the progress of bilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas, including the Belt and Road Initiative, trade, sustainability, agriculture, food security, digital economy, smart cities, green economy, science and innovation, renewable energy, finance, public health, as well as the China-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City, which is a State-level bilateral cooperation project.

It was agreed that Singapore-China cooperation had been comprehensive and progressive, evolving over the years in tandem with each countries’ respective development priorities. DPM Wong and Vice Premier Ding also agreed that both sides should continue to adopt a forward-leaning approach and tap on opportunities in emerging areas to deliver high-quality outcomes that would benefit both countries as well as contribute to regional prosperity. In this regard, they welcomed the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Further Upgrade Protocol to deepen cooperation.

As part of ongoing efforts to strengthen people-to-people links, both countries agreed to deepen cultural and educational exchanges. The movement of people will be facilitated by a mutual 30-day visa exemption arrangement, with a view to implementation in early 2024.

Memorandums of understanding and agreements announced

Twenty-four memorandums of understanding (“MOUs”) and agreements were announced at the JCBC. These span a range of initiatives, including relating to the abovementioned mutual 30-day visa exemption arrangement, the establishment of the Singapore-China Digital Policy Dialogue, energy cooperation, environmental cooperation, and strengthening cooperation on climate-friendly and livable cities. The full list of the MOUs signed is provided in the PMO press release.

Reference materials

The press release is available on the PMO website www.pmo.gov.sg.