SINGAPORE: To enhance people-to-people connections in the post-pandemic era between Singapore and China, a 30-day mutual visa-free arrangement has been announced.
As reported by Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong disclosed this significant initiative at the 19th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), the foremost bilateral platform between the two countries, held on Thursday (7 Dec).
This arrangement will allow citizens from both nations to freely visit each other for up to 30 days without the necessity of obtaining a visa, fostering smoother travel and interactions.
Currently, Chinese passport holders are required to apply for a visa to enter Singapore, while Singaporeans enjoy visa-free entry to China for up to 15 days.
Presently, flights connecting Singapore and China have recovered to 75% of their pre-pandemic levels, indicating a gradual return to normalcy in travel between the two countries.
According to the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, both nations will collaborate to finalize the implementation details of this mutual 30-day visa exemption arrangement, which is set to be put into effect in early 2024.
DPM Wong commenced his official four-day visit to China on Tuesday, marking his first visit to China as the successor of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Expressing his belief in the new arrangement’s potential, DPM Wong stated that it will “enable more people-to-people exchanges, thereby strengthening the foundation of our bilateral relations.”
He said he current JCBC holds special significance as it marks the first meeting since the mutual upgrade of bilateral relations earlier in 2023.
“This upgrade is not just a change in name. It reflects our shared aspirations to set more ambitious goals in our cooperation between our two countries.”
“And we have projects that truly reflect the key elements of our partnership, which is one that is comprehensive and of all-round high quality, as well as future oriented.”
Additionally, this JCBC meeting commemorates the 15th anniversary of the visionary Tianjin Eco-City project.
“The Eco-City is a visionary project that seeks to develop a model of city development that is environmentally sustainable, and we set about doing this even before environmental issues like climate change became a key global agenda.”
Personally involved in the development of the Tianjin Eco-City during his tenure as Minister for National Development, DPM Wong expressed his satisfaction with the substantial progress achieved over the past 15 years.
The upgrade of Singapore and China’s bilateral relations in April heralded a new phase in diplomatic ties, transitioning towards an all-encompassing, high-quality, and future-oriented partnership.
During his opening statements at the JCBC meeting, Chinese Vice-Premier Ding Xuexiang (丁薛祥) outlined that the day’s discussions would centre on three key themes: all-round, high-quality, and future-oriented aspects of cooperation between the two nations.
Delivering his remarks in Mandarin, Mr. Ding highlighted the increasing vibrancy of people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and Singapore.
“The number of Chinese students studying in Singapore exceeded 40,000, basically recovering to the pre-pandemic level,” he said.
He expressed confidence that the efforts invested in these discussions throughout the year would yield fruitful outcomes, emphasizing the significance of the ongoing development in Sino-Singapore relations.
This JCBC session is notable as it marks the first time DPM Wong is co-chairing with Mr Ding, underscoring their joint commitment to fostering closer ties between Singapore and China.
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