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Asia Minute: Southeast Asian leaders make their way to China this week

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, center, steps off the podium after a group photo during an EU-ASEAN summit in Brussels, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022.
Geert Vanden Wijngaert
/
AP
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, center, steps off the podium after a group photo during an EU-ASEAN summit in Brussels, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022.

Early spring is a popular time for many people to hit the road — and this year it's also turning out to be a popular time for some world leaders to travel.

The Prime Minister of Singapore is in China this week for the first time in four years.

Lee Hsien Loong is bringing about 50 government officials with him as part of a week-long visit.

China is Singapore's largest trading partner and the country is in the unusual position of running a trade surplus with Beijing and a trade deficit with the United States — which is Singapore's number three trading partner, behind Malaysia.

The Prime Minister of Malaysia is also in China this week.

Anwar Ibrahim arrived Tuesday on a six-day visit, highlighting what government officials are calling “economic diplomacy.”

China has been Malaysia's largest trading partner for 14 years in a row.

The Southeast Asian country is trying to cement its position as a significant player in the global sector of electrical and electronic products, including a role in components for electric vehicles.

Last month, Malaysia's government announced Tesla would be opening an office in the country and setting up a network of charging stations for its cars.

Both leaders will also attend the Boao Forum for Asia, a regional economic gathering on China's Hainan Island.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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