Tue, Jul 27, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Singapore confident in its China ties


Singapore's National Development Minister, Mah Bow Tan (馬寶山), has said he is sure the city-state's strained relations with China will improve despite continued anger in Beijing over Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's (李顯龍) visit to Taiwan, local media reported yesterday.

Beijing has responded to Lee's three-day trip to Taipei earlier this month with repeated warnings of severe consequences for bilateral ties, despite Singapore's explanation that the visit was private and unofficial.

Mah's three-day working trip to Chengdu as an advisor for the Singapore-Sichuan Trade and Investment Committee scheduled for this week has also been delayed, after China decided not to extend an invitation.

"This is the decision the authorities have taken and we res-pect that decision," Channel NewsAsia's Web site quoted Mah as telling local media on Sunday.

"So I just have to wait for the appropriate time and I will be happy to renew my relationships in my capacity as the Singapore-Sichuan committee advisor," he said.

"I believe ... two-way flow of trade is beneficial to both countries, as well as to Sichuan, and I am positive that over time, business will continue and this will help to bring about an improvement in relations," he said.

Lee, who will succeed Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong (吳作棟) on Aug. 12, said that he had declined China's request not to travel to Taiwan, as it would have effectively undermined the city-state's independence.

The purpose of his visit was to update himself on the situation in Taiwan before succeeding Goh next month, he said.

Lee also reiterated Singapore's adherence to the "one China" policy and opposition to independence for Taiwan.

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