Singapore FM: China an extremely important partner

China is an extremely important partner for Singapore and a key player in the region, Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam said on Monday.

Shanmugam, who was currently in the United States on a week- long introductory visit in his capacity as foreign minister, would be visiting China from Thursday to Saturday, according to the online edition of local daily Straits Times.

While in Beijing, he will meet Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and other leaders.

“Singapore values its strong and substantive relations with China which have flourished through frequent high-level visits, strengthening economic linkages, extensive cooperation in many fields, and growing contacts between our peoples,” Shanmugam said in a statement issued in Washington.

“I look forward to discussing with the Chinese leaders ways to broaden and deepen areas of our cooperation, on bilateral matters as well as on regional and global issues of common concern,” he said.

Shanmugam added that he had intended to make China his first introductory visit outside Southeast Asia but was unable to do so due to scheduling problems.

Noting that China has made phenomenal economic and social progress in the past 30 years, he said the strength and resilience of the Chinese economy has been a stabilizing force and an engine of growth for regional economies.

“China’s growth and prosperity not only benefits China, but also contributes to regional and global peace and stability,” he was quoted as saying.

He dismissed the idea that a renewed American focus in the region could lead to conflict with China “because it is not in anyone’s interest.”

Shanmugam is also the minister for law in the current cabinet. He was appointed minister of foreign affairs and minister for law in the cabinet reshuffle following the defeat of former Foreign Minister George Yeo in the parliamentary elections in May last year.