Singapore names orchid after New Zealand PM to mark visit

Singapore, Apr 19 (EFE).- The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, would now have a permanent footprint in the lush gardens of Singapore after the city state decided to name a new orchid – the national flower of the island – in her honor.

Ardern had arrived in Singapore on Monday on a three-day visit – her first since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic – focused on cooperation in trade, climate change and security among other issues.

She has become the latest leader to be honored under the so-called “orchid diplomacy,” a tradition of naming a new orchid species grown in Singapore after a foreign leader of celebrity.

The Dendrobium Jacinda Ardern, a hybrid of Dendrobium Lim Wen Gin and Dendrobium Takashimaya, has white flowers with a subtle shade of violet at the tip of the petal, and is one of the around 220 orchids native to Singapore.

This is the island’s modest version of China’s “panda diplomacy,” in which Beijing gifts one of the animals to countries with special ties to it, with Singapore authorities later planting the orchid at one of its gardens.

Some of the leaders who have had orchids named after them in the past include former German chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, and the former first couple of the United States, Barack and Michelle Obama.

Singapore had declared hybrid orchid Vanda Miss Joaquim, also known as the Singapore orchid or Princess Aloha orchid, as its national flower in 1980, with the pink bloom aimed to signify the multiculturality of the island, which houses over one million immigrants and has a population mainly consisting of ethnic Chinese, Malay and Indian communities.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said after meeting Ardern that the two countries were natural allies.

The two leaders condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine in a joint statement, having already imposed sanctions against Moscow.

Lee said that geopolitical uncertainties, supply chain vulnerabilities and protectionism were some of the challenges on which the two governments had agreed to work together and find opportunities of mutual benefit.

Singapore is the first foreign visit by Ardern – who will head to Japan on Wednesday – since February 2020, and has been promoted by New Zealand as a sign that the country is again open to trade negotiations after maintaining a strict border closure for the past two years. EFE


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