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Taiwan congratulates new Singaporean leader Lawrence Wong

05/16/2024 03:17 PM
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Singapore's Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong attends the G20 Finance Ministers Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia July 16, 2022. Photo: Reuters
Singapore's Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong attends the G20 Finance Ministers Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia July 16, 2022. Photo: Reuters

Taipei, May 16 (CNA) The Taiwan government on Thursday congratulated Singapore Finance Minister Lawrence Wong (黃循財) on his appointment as his country's fourth prime minister the previous day.

Wong, 51, was sworn in as his country's leader Wednesday night at the Istana -- the presidential office -- along with the rest of his Cabinet.

Wong comes from a crop of so-called "4G" leaders, a new generation of politicians handpicked by the long-ruling People's Action Party (PAP) to take over the reins of the country, known to be the Asian trade and financial hub. He is the first Singaporean leader born after the country's independence in 1965.

Wong will retain his current position as finance minister as he takes the helm of a country that was led for 20 years by Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍), son of the founder of modern Singapore Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀), who remained in the Cabinet until four years before his death in 2015.

Lee Hsien Loong was appointed as senior minister after stepping down as Singapore's prime minister.

In a press statement, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) congratulated Wong on his appointment as prime minister of the city state and also expressed gratitude to his predecessor Lee Hsien Loong for his long-term support of Taiwan-Singapore relations.

The relations between the two countries have been cordial and friendly, MOFA said, adding that it hopes the two governments will continue to deepen the friendship and expand their bilateral cooperation in fields such as economy and trade, education, tourism, cultural exchanges and people-to-people interactions, as Wong takes office as Singapore's leader.

Taiwan and Singapore have maintained close ties, despite the lack of official diplomatic relations, since the latter became an independent state, formally named the Republic of Singapore, in August 1965.

Taiwan established a representative office in Singapore in 1969, and 10 years later, Singapore reciprocated by opening an office in Taipei.

Lee Kuan Yew visited Taiwan more than 20 times during his tenure as prime minister from 1965 to 1990, becoming one of the world leaders to most frequently visit the country.

During Lee Hsien Loong's tenure as prime minister, the two sides in 2013 signed a trade agreement, titled the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP).

As of 2023, Singapore was Taiwan's sixth largest trading partner, while Taiwan was Singapore's fourth largest trading partner, with an annual trade volume of US$39.2 billion.

The two sides have also engaged in military cooperation, with Singapore Armed Forces permitted to conduct military training in Taiwan under a program called "Project Starlight" (星光計畫).

(By Joseph Yeh)

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