Image copyright Reuters Image caption Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) meet
Singapore and Shanghai have signed deals to go further in trade and infrastructure investment, as China grows more isolated in its trade relationship with its Asean neighbours.
The agreement came on the second day of Premier Lee Hsien Loong’s four-day visit to China.
Mr Lee said that relations between Singapore and China were “at a new and very high level”, ahead of an official dinner in Beijing.
Singapore currently has the fastest-growing economy in the world.
The two governments signed an agreement on “enhanced cooperation” in the use of space for science, education and development.
“We will establish a national space agency with a special focus on exploring the ocean in depth, including its biodiversity,” Premier Lee told the BBC.
The agreement aims to create a basic understanding of the South China Sea to “to understand and safeguard marine biodiversity,” Singaporean Prime Minister Lee said.
“In addition to the space agency, we will develop ways to pool our diverse capabilities in space, space technology, in earth observation, in deep sea search and search for planets.”
Singapore’s ambassador to China, Lim Boon Heng, also unveiled a plaque on a new crossing between the two cities which will double the road from Singapore to Shanghai.
The deal was sealed as Singapore and its Asean neighbours, who also include Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, meet in Laos to discuss issues of trade, investment and security.
Singapore, which hosted a number of Asean leaders at the Asean summit, was one of several Asean states which broke off dialogue with China in November last year.
China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea have fuelled mistrust between it and its neighbours, which have rival claims to the waters.
While most of the attention in Singapore and China’s relationship has been on economics, the couple also discussed culture.
Mr Lee hailed the results of the last Chinese cultural exchange he organised, where more than 100 Chinese students from Singapore went to study in the city state.
To mark the 500th anniversary of Chinese explorers landing in Singapore in 1434, the two governments will host a music concert this summer featuring music from China’s Song Dynasty and from Chinese spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.