Singapore, China relations warm

Feb. 2, 2005 at 8:23 PM
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BEIJING, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Chinese officials say they want to improve their relations with Singapore and want Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to visit China frequently.

The call for closer ties came from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, after a Wednesday meeting with Singaporean Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo.

"Premier Wen welcomes Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's early visit to China and I'm now working on a common date with the Chinese foreign ministry," Yeo said, adding it should be in the first half of the year.

Calling on Premier Wen, Yeo praised him for China's assistance to the tsunami-hit countries and his participation at last month's Jakarta summit to coordinate global relief efforts. In turn, Wen thanked Lee for initiating the idea for the summit, Yeo said.

They also discussed Taiwan, with Wen explaining to Yeo why China plans to enact an anti-secession law. A draft of the law will be debated next month during the Chinese Parliament's annual meetings, The Straits Times reported.

Chinese President Hu Jintao announced the plan in December, after he took over his country's top military post. The law is meant to set China's threshold for Taipei's pro-independence activities.

Yeo said Singapore understands the reasons for enacting the law now.

Said Yeo: "The movements towards independence in Taiwan can destabilize the region. Our position opposing Taiwanese independence is clear, and we support China in its desire to seek peaceful unification across the Strait."

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