“Will do our best to bring Asean and China closer together,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong 李显龙 wrote in a Facebook post following a meeting with China’s premier, Li Keqiang 李克强, on September 19. The sentiment to increase cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — which Singapore will rotate in to lead next year — and China likely delighted Beijing, which has long viewed the city-state as an important but troublesome partner. Singapore, being three-quarters ethnically Chinese, is important to China as a gateway to Southeast Asia, but distrusted by Communist Party hardliners for its closeness to Taiwan and the United States — see here for a chart explaining the variety of Chinese views on Singapore.
On September 20, the top headlines on central state media outlets Xinhua (in Chinese, in English) and People’s Daily (in Chinese, in English) were about Lee’s meeting with a visibly buoyant President Xi Jinping. But as Bloomberg reports, it wasn’t just the president and his premier, it was all his men, too: Lee met with two more of the seven most powerful men in China, national legislature chief Zhang Dejiang 张德江 and anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan 王岐山 — a meeting that came as a “surprise to many China watchers and apparently even to Wang himself,” the South China Morning Post reports.
What are Singapore and China doing together, other than exchanging friendly bromides? SCMP has the relevant roundup:
- China is trying to get Singapore to have a Chinese company build the planned $14 billion, 350-kilometer (217-mile) high-speed rail line from Singapore to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, expected to be completed in 2026.
- Both countries are implementing the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, a package of financial services, transportation, logistics, and communications services that aims to improve connectivity between Chongqing and Southeast Asia.
- Chinese property developers have flocked to Singapore, as the city-state accounts for more than 15 percent of their outbound investment.
- Trade has flourished, growing 60 percent since 2009 to $85 billion last year, and the countries are currently negotiating an update to their bilateral free trade agreement. China has been Singapore’s top trading partner since 2013.
Chinese universities ‘limiting admission of North Korean students’ as nuclear crisis escalates / SCMP
Why China won’t pressure North Korea as much as Trump wants / New Yorker
What total destruction of North Korea means / The Atlantic
South Korea’s leader will be odd man out in meeting with Trump and Shinzo Abe / NYT (paywall)
Dutch reporter out after investigation confirms irregularities / Sixth Tone
Oscar Garschagen, the China correspondent for Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad who was accused of ethics violations two weeks ago, was fired after an internal investigation.
Chinese state media criticizes AI driven news distribution, naming Toutiao / TechNode
The People’s Daily warned (in Chinese) of the danger of “information cocoons” (信息茧房 xìnxī jiǎn fáng) — echo chambers — that consumers of overly personalized newsfeeds might get trapped in.
19th Party Congress
Opinion: In Xi’s China, pinnacle of power is men only / WSJ (paywall)
“Only two women serve on the current 25-member Politburo. At least one is set to retire.”
Xi demands ‘strong hands’ to maintain stability ahead of Communist Party congress / SCMP
China offers support for strife-torn Venezuela at United Nations / Reuters