PM Lee urges China to join TPP

by Cheryl Tay

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong suggested to Chinese President Hu Jintao during a meeting that China may consider joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Introduced in 2005, the TPP is a free trade initiative between New Zealand, Singapore, Chile and Brunei, countries believed to have been hijacked by the US to gauge China's growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Both leaders are scheduled to attend the upcoming APEC meeting in Vladivostok, Russia.

PM Lee noted that China and ASEAN's regional cooperation has become progressive, with China now taking part in the Southeast Asian group talks regarding a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Such progress must be extended across the Pacific — between the western Pacific, Latin America and the US, he added.

"There's TPP which Singapore is participating in...China is not, yet. But if you take a longer-term perspective, at some point, China might consider (joining) if it makes sense — not on the immediate agenda, but something for the longer term."

Meanwhile, the leaders have also reviewed the cooperation between the two countries, noting the positive performance of their first project, Suzhou Industrial Park (pictured), as well as the Tianjin Eco-City development.

"The physical development is progressing and the Tianjin authority is giving its full support. But, of course, it has a long way to go yet. It's an ambitious project."

The Singapore-China projects signify a progressive bilateral cooperation between the two countries, noted PM Lee, adding that Singapore will continue to benefit from the partnership and develop it further.

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