SINGAPORE: Visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao called for China and Singapore to step up their defense and security collaboration yesterday during a State visit to the city-state on his way to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
President Hu Jintao (L) talks with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (R) during lunch in Singapore November 12, 2009. [Agencies]
"We hope the two nations will strengthen exchanges, upgrade the cooperation level and vigorously collaborate on humanitarian relief, joint marine search and rescue operations, and in fighting terrorism and securing the safety of passage through the Malacca Straits," Hu told Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Hu flew in to Singapore on Wednesday for the three-day visit.
Before that, he made a State visit to Malaysia, where he journeyed to the historic city of Malacca and visited the Straits of Malacca, the longest and busiest straits in the world.
Lee said China and Singapore can learn from each other, and he suggested their cooperation should extend from bilateral to multilateral occasions.
Lee also praised China for playing a key role in addressing the global financial crisis. He said Beijing will continue to be very influential during the "post-crisis" era.
"The steady, dynamic and prosperous development of the Chinese economy is conducive to the economic recovery in Asia as well as the world," Lee said yesterday morning.
Hu said China's smooth and rapid economic expansion will generate business opportunities for Singapore and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
He also said Beijing supported both nations' involvement in talks about the world economic situation and about how best to meet the challenges of globalization.
"The two countries can also step up coordination in multilateral arenas, such as East Asia cooperation, APEC and the United Nations, so as to contribute to the peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the world at large," Hu said.
Lee said Singapore welcomed the notion of closer ties between China and ASEAN countries and hailed China's active participation in APEC.
Lee added that Singapore was ready to work with China at the G20 table and through other international organizations.
New areas of cooperation suggested by Lee include urban planning, water treatment, environmental protection and social harmony, all realms in which Singapore is known to excel.
Hu said the nations should also continue to work on the Suzhou Industrial Park and the Tianjin Eco-city - two China-Singapore inter-governmental flagship projects.
The Suzhou Industrial Park has become a model for industrial parks in China. It was launched in 1994 and has been a vehicle that has allowed for the transfer of some of Singapore's industrial expertise to China.
Tianjin Eco-City was started last year. Goals behind the project include the transformation of non-arable land into a thriving city in which ecological rehabilitation is balanced with urban development.
In addition, the two leaders witnessed the signing of several agreements yesterday, including one promising two pandas for Singapore to mark the 20th anniversary of bilateral ties in 2010.
Other deals included one signed by the foreign ministries of the two countries that calls for exchanges and the training of officials between 2010 and 2014.
During the meeting between Hu and Lee, Hu said the Leaders' Informal Meeting that will start on Saturday offers an opportunity for the international community to compare notes on the financial crisis, the fight against protectionism and the promotion of regional integration.
He said leaders should put forward "concrete measures" to support economic growth and beef up regional collaboration.
The president also said he hoped delegates at the APEC summit would voice their "clear-cut and strong" opposition to trade and investment protectionism.
On Tuesday, Lee also called on APEC members to commit to their goals of sustaining growth, avoiding protectionism and promoting regional economic integration.
Hu also pointed out that China supported the Doha Round talks.
APEC's leaders have voiced concern about the lack of substantive progress in wrapping up the world trade talks that were started in Doha in 2001. The APEC leaders had called for a deal to be inked in 2010, according to a draft statement by the 21-member group released early this month.