As this year marks the 15th anniversary of the ASEAN-China strategic partnership, Singapore will continue its commitment to promoting friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation between the organization and China, said Stanley Loh, Singaporean ambassador to China.
Loh made the remarks on Saturday when attending a forum hosted by Western Returned Scholars Association and the Charhar Institute.
Singapore took the rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year, and the country has coordinated between China and ASEAN.
Loh added that Singapore believes the Belt and Road Initiative can help meet the region's vast infrastructure needs.
Loh mentioned that Singapore was an early supporter of the initiative and among the first developed countries that joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, adding that there are four potential areas for further cooperation between China and ASEAN.
"First of all, we can reduce financial risks and push forward the application of Chinese renminbi," Loh said.[MG_SEO]
"At present, most infrastructures projects in the region are settled in US dollars, while we think the use of RMB still has great potential."
Loh said as the second-largest offshore RMB clearing center outside of China, Singapore is working to strengthen ties with China and other countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative to speed up the construction of projects and reduce financial risks, a safeguard that using RMB would provide.
"Second, we should link the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road more closely," Loh said, adding that it should not be two separate routes but a continuous passage. He said Singapore has established a direct and substantive line linking the land and maritime silk roads. It is a rail-sea route that allows cargo to be shipped directly from Chongqing through the Qinzhou Port of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region to Singapore.
Advantage in shipping
Singapore can also extend its shipments to Europe, Africa and the Middle East, he said.
Through this route, the journey has been shortened from three weeks to one week, which can also help reduce logistics costs, Loh added.
Thirdly, according to Loh, as many countries are involved in the plan, there will be considerable differences in politics, economies and cultures. As both Singapore and China attach great importance to cooperation within the initiative, the two countries can work together, for example, to provide joint training for other countries' officials so as to make the third country more familiar with the projects.
Last but not least, he said, with the number of cross-border infrastructure projects increasing, commercial disputes will inevitably increase, and Singapore's legal system can help resolve such issues.
"With the efforts of all sides, the relationship between China and ASEAN will continue to strengthen and usher in a new golden age for China-ASEAN relations," he said.