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China ambassador to Singapore Sun Haiyan (centre). Photo: Handout

China’s new envoy to Singapore says will promote ‘peace and prosperity’ in the region

  • Sun Haiyan, a longtime member of the International Liaison Department, is China’s 12th ambassador to Singapore
  • She says both nations need to deepen cooperation in developing the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor – part of the Belt and Road Initiative – to boost regional development and prosperity
China’s new ambassador to Singapore, Sun Haiyan, has signalled that ties between the two countries are on an even keel as she pledged to strengthen bilateral relations between the “friendly neighbours facing each other across the sea”.

Sun, 50, arrived in the city state on Monday and was received at Changi Airport by Singapore foreign ministry officials and Chinese diplomats, an embassy statement said.

According to the Singaporean-Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, Sun is a veteran of the CCP central committee’s International Liaison Department, having joined it in 1997.

The law graduate from Peking University was director of the First Bureau of the Liaison Department from August 2018 until her Singapore posting, the newspaper said.

Sun, who will be China’s 12th ambassador to Singapore, succeeds Hong Xiaoyong, 61, who left the post in March after a four-year tenure.

In remarks published on the embassy website, Sun noted that bilateral ties were steered “towards a new era” in 2015 following a state visit to Singapore by President Xi Jinping.

“Since then, our strategic mutual trust has strengthened, concrete cooperation expanded, and development interests more closely aligned to the benefit of not only the peoples of our two countries, but also the region and beyond,” Sun said.

The incoming envoy also noted that President Xi and Singapore’s President, Halimah Yacob had reached “an important consensus” during their meeting at the sidelines of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on enhancing ties following “once-in-a-century changes and pandemic in the world”.

Both countries needed to strengthen their cooperation in developing the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor – a trade and logistics passage that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative – to enhance regional peace and prosperity, the envoy said.

“In doing so, China-Singapore relations will develop further and our two countries will be able to contribute more to prosperity and development in the region and peace and stability in the world,” Sun said. “This shall be my mission as Chinese Ambassador to Singapore.”

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Dylan Loh, an assistant professor in foreign policy at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said while there were few publicly available details about Sun, she appeared well-equipped for the role.

“Her background in the International Liaison Department will give her a strong sensibility for the work required in Singapore and in the region,” said Loh.

Loh added that China and Singapore enjoyed close ties and this was set to continue regardless of personnel changes at the ambassadorial level.

Like other Southeast Asian Chinese missions, Beijing’s Singapore embassy has in recent years scaled up its social media and soft diplomacy efforts, using Facebook posts to reach local residents as well as Chinese nationals living in the city state.

Hong, the former envoy, also occasionally wrote commentaries in Singapore’s national newspaper The Straits Times on geopolitical issues.

In October last year, the Chinese embassy responded to a viral WeChat post about Chinese workers grappling with poor conditions and delayed access to medical aid in a Singapore dormitory affected by Covid-19.

Along with the embassy, Chinese nationals donated items to the workers.