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Xi Jinping in Singapore to strengthen friendship
Chinese VP's trip caps 12 months of visits by top leaders of both sides
By Cai Haoxiang

CHINA'S Vice-President Xi Jinping, who is in Singapore to mark 20 years of bilateral relations, yesterday expressed the hope that his visit would further advance these ties.

Mr Xi said in a statement, issued soon after he landed: 'I hope that my visit will strengthen the traditional friendship between China and Singapore and facilitate fresh progress in our bilateral relations.'

The Chinese leader, who is making his first overseas trip since his elevation to an appointment that cements his position as China's next president, also pointed to the frequent contact between the two countries' leaders and the 'fruitful cooperation' in many areas.

'My visit aims to consolidate the traditional friendship, expand strategic mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation and promote common development,' he added in his statement issued through the Chinese Embassy here.

During his three-day official visit, at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Xi, 57, will meet almost all of Singapore's top leaders and witness the signing of documents relating to research and culture.
Yesterday, he began his visit by meeting Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew at Parliament House.

Before they went behind closed doors, Mr Xi expressed his 'deep condolences' to MM Lee on the loss of his wife, Madam Kwa Geok Choo, 89, who died last month.
'I hope you will overcome your grief and take good care of your health,' he told Mr Lee, 87, in Mandarin.

A statement from Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry later said both leaders reaffirmed the close ties between their countries and exchanged views on regional developments.

After the meeting, they went to nearby Singapore River and jointly unveiled a bust and plaque of China's late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, to mark 20 years of bilateral ties.
Text on the commemorative marker explains the achievements of Deng, who transformed China into an economic giant by introducing reforms and opening it to the world.

It is part of a series by the National Heritage Board and the embassy of an eminent person's country, aimed at helping people better understand the person's connection to Singapore.
Commenting on its significance, the board's chairman Tommy Koh said: 'This marker records Deng's historic visit in 1978, pays tribute to him as the architect of China's spectacular success and expresses our gratitude for his contributions to the flourishing relations between our two countries.'

Singapore is Mr Xi's first stop on his four-nation tour that includes South Africa, Angola and Botswana. He is accompanied by a high-level delegation of 50 officials, including six vice-ministers, but not his wife, famous Chinese folk music singer Peng Liyuan.

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