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Remarks by Ambassador Chen Xiaodong At the Welcoming Reception
2015-07-15 23:28

Distinguished Guests,

Dear Friends,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Good evening. Thank you very much for joining us today.

    The year 2015 marks 50 years of Singapore’s independence. It is also the 25th year of China-Singapore diplomatic relations. This is a rare occasion when Singapore’s “Golden Jubilee” meets the China-Singapore “silver anniversary”.

    I am deeply honored to be appointed as the Tenth Chinese Ambassador to Singapore in this auspicious year. Let me add that I will turn 50 later this year. So I’m proud to be about the same age as the Republic of Singapore.

    I must say that my job in this country went off to a good start. In about two weeks after I arrived in Singapore, President Tony Tan Keng Yam paid a very successful state visit to China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping and achieved positive outcomes.

    Let me recount to you the exchange between the two presidents. President Xi emphasized that China and Singapore are close and special partners, and President Tan stressed that we need to bring our relationship to new levels. It is fair to say that the visit has achieved positive outcomes and charted the course for China-Singapore relations for years to come.

    I had the honor of accompanying President Tan during his visit in China. This was my orientation journey. I gained first-hand experience about the scope, depth, warmth and dynamism of our relations, which stands me in good stead in performing my important new role. I am deeply grateful to my Singaporean colleagues for their thoughtful arrangements to ease me into my post.

    I am a newcomer to Singapore, but the past few weeks have been an eye-opener to me. I cannot help but marvel at the enormous achievements Singapore has made in just five decades.

    The hard-working and talented Singaporean people, with their tenacious efforts, achieved remarkable social and economic development and cultivated a distinctive Singapore model for the world. Today, Singapore has joined the ranks of the most developed countries and has grown into an established global hub of shipping, finance, logistics, commodity trading and oil refining to name but a few, and today, Singapore is playing an important and unique role in the regional and international affairs. By offering “one country’s view of the world”, Singapore proved to the international community that how significant a small country could be to the rest of the world.

    One month ago, Singapore held another successful Southeast Asian Games, and Team Singapore achieved record-breaking outcomes. About one week ago, the Singapore Botanic Garden was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When I heard those encouraging news, I was as rejoiced as all Singaporeans.

    These achievements embody the Singapore miracle and placed Singapore on the map in many people’s minds as a warm and friendly “little red dot”.

    As Singapore celebrates its golden jubilee, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to your country on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Singapore. I also want to take this opportunity to once again pay high tribute to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and extend my deep condolences to his family and to the Singaporean people.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    China-Singapore friendly exchanges far predate the establishment of our diplomatic ties 25 five years ago.

    In 1877, it was in Singapore that the Qing Dynasty government appointed the first Consular in China’s modern history, and initiated a new chapter in China-Singapore friendly exchanges.

    In 1970s, the older generation of leaders like Mr. Deng Xiaoping and Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, with their long-term and strategic vision, worked together to set up a framework guiding China-Singapore relations, which underpinned their fast and all-round growth in the decades that followed.

    The Chinese people will never forget Singapore’s valuable contribution to China’s reform and opening up and integration with the world, nor will we forget how our two countries supported each other in times of difficulty like when SARS, earthquakes and floods struck.

    We have every reason to be proud of China-Singapore relations today.

    High-level visits between us are increasingly frequent. President Tan’s recent visit to China is just like a close neighbor dropping in at our home. These frequent mutual visits not only take place at the top level, but also at various levels between our two countries. They are like the fresh spring water that keeps nourishing our relations.

    Our cooperation is getting on a solid track of growth. Mechanisms like the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), Forum on Leadership, Social Governance Forum are making a positive impact, and cooperation projects at central and local levels are all generating fruitful outcomes.

    Our economic and investment link is increasingly productive. At the beginning of our diplomatic ties, the two-way trade was only US$2.8 billion. Last year, this figure reached nearly US$80 billion, registering an increase of over 28 times. Currently, China is the largest trading partner to Singapore, and Singapore China’s largest source of inward investment.

    Our people-to-people exchanges are increasingly dynamic. From Changi airport one can fly to more than 30 destinations in China, and everyday over 6,000 people travel between China and Singapore.

    We must join hands to create a better future of China-Singapore relations.

    My colleagues at the Embassy told me that after the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, our Singapore friends donated several primary schools in the quake-affected area. Every year since then, they have been inviting Chinese students from these schools to visit Singapore and live and study with Singaporean students. Many of them became good friends with their Singapore classmates. This bond of friendship is both a reflection of the closeness of our two peoples and also an indication of the bright future for China-Singapore friendship.

    I am convinced that our relations will grow as lush and exuberant as the rain trees along the Singapore streets.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Such good relations between our two countries would not be possible without the effort and contribution from all of you and from all sectors of the Singapore society. I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to you and through you to all friends in Singapore.

    I hope that my Embassy and myself can continue to count on your support in the years to come.

    As the new Chinese Ambassador, I am deeply aware of my responsibilities. I am ready to work with all of you for new and even greater success for China-Singapore relations.

    Thank you.

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